COVID-19

The coronavirus disease COVID-19 was first reported from Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31, 2019.

OTTUMWA — Following weeks of exponential growth of coronavirus cases, Iowa suffered its deadliest day Wednesday.

There were 40 Iowans reported to have died from the coronavirus, a record for a single 24-hour period. Between 10 a.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported there were 3,896 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the state. There were 9,409 new tests in that period.

Record hospitalizations continued around the state for an 11th straight day, with 1,527 Iowans in the hospital with the virus. There were 283 in an intensive care unit, and 234 admitted in the last 24 hours.

In Wapello County, 28 new cases were reported. Hospitalizations rose to 12 in the county, according to the latest numbers from local public health officials.

The 14-day positivity rate fell slightly in Wapello, down to 26%. That rate is still five times higher than the recommended level for businesses to reopen, according to experts with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to state data, there were 659 active cases of the virus in Wapello County as of Wednesday morning.

The county grew to 79 total deaths in the pandemic, after local officials announced Tuesday three more had died from virus complications.

In Appanoose County, 16 are hospitalized, according to the latest available state numbers from Monday evening. The county added 11 new cases of COVID-19, upping active cases to 423.

Tuesday, Appanoose County Sheriff Gary Anderson posted a statement to his office’s Facebook page asking for the public’s help in mitigating the spread of the virus by following best practices and wearing a mask.

Anderson’s statement included a stark warning that hospital and emergency responder resources are growing thin in the rural county of 12,500.

“One significant crash can overload our emergency department,” his post read. “If advanced critical care facilities are delaying acceptance of patients and you can not do your part, this may be a good time to consider advance directives.”

Officials from MercyOne Centerville Medical Center have said as their inpatient numbers fluctuate they don’t want people to delay treatment. However, they’ve echoed pleas from the medical community for citizens to do their part in controlling virus spread.

In the last two weeks, 29.6% of COVID-19 tests taken by Appanoose County residents have returned positive.

Four more deaths were reported in Appanoose County on Wednesday, following a report of 14 that local officials confirmed Tuesday. Since the pandemic began in March, 21 have died in Appanoose County.

Davis County’s rate has grown to 29.8%, the highest in the area. They added 27 new cases between Tuesday and Wednesday, moving their active case load to 209.

Hospitalizations in Davis County grew to six on Monday, according to state data. The Davis County Hospital banned visitors on Tuesday, and in a Facebook post said their hospital is not yet at capacity but seeing records for COVID-19 inpatients.

“We must band together and act now to lower the transmission rates so we lower the risk of overwhelming our health care systems,” the post on the hospital’s Facebook page read.

There were 11 new cases reported in Jefferson, eight in Van Buren and four in Monroe.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets. It is often mild and some individuals remain asymptomatic or have only cold or flu symptoms. But the disease can be more severe, require hospitalization and lead to death, particularly in older or immunocompromised people.

Experts, including those at the CDC, say wearing masks when in public, keeping at least 6 feet of distance between people when possible, and good hygiene can prevent the spread.

The Ottumwa Courier relies on data reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health, using its coronavirus data dashboard at coronavirus.iowa.gov. Data is checked each day at 10 a.m. and then compared to the data previously captured from the dashboard to produce stories.

The state has changed how it reported the data several times, and local officials often produce data based on different standards or in different timeframes. Therefore, the data will not always align with other sources.

Those wanting to be tested can visit testiowa.com to schedule a test at the Ottumwa Test Iowa Clinic.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the first vice president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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