Virus Outbreak

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, pink, cultured in the lab.

OTTUMWA — Coronavirus cases are rising in America, and there's evidence that trend is occurring in Iowa. According to state data, Iowa has seen 3,250 individuals test positive for COVID-19 in the past week.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported another 907 individuals were positive statewide on Friday. That follows reports of 634 new cases on Thursday, 765 on Wednesday and 486 on Tuesday.

Since Saturday, the state has added an average of 464 new cases per day. That's significantly higher than the average daily rate of the past two weeks. From March 13-19, the state averaged 350 new cases per day, and the week before that 386 per day.

On Friday, the state's 14-day specimen positivity rate rose for a fourth consecutive day. Specimen positivity refers to each individual test, as opposed to each individual which is no longer reported by the state.

It's a state trajectory that is beginning to follow a national rise in new coronavirus cases with concerns of new variants that are more contagious and at times known to cause more severe infections.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday cases in the United States the last week were up 7%.

"We know from prior surges that if we don't control things now there is a real potential for the epidemic curve to soar again,” Walensky said.

Gov. Kim Reynolds removed the statewide mask mandate and social distancing restrictions in early February, taking criticism from opponents for a move they said came too early.

There was one new death reported in Wapello County on Friday, the county's 115th since the pandemic began. It was among 19 new deaths the state reported on Friday.

The state regularly reports deaths on a delay, taking days and weeks to add deaths publicly after a verification process. To date, there have been 5,708 deaths reported in Iowa.

There were four new cases in Wapello County reported on Friday. Updated data also included two new cases in Davis, two in Van Buren, one in Appanoose and one in Jefferson.

Hospitalizations have risen in recent days, up to 207 as of Friday morning. It's the first time hospitalizations were over 200 since March 1. There were 46 in an intensive care unit.

Iowa has now given 1,305,043 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to Iowa residents, which is 31,311 more than the prior day. As of Friday, the state has given one dose of the vaccine to roughly 10.8% of its population. About 16.6% have received both doses.

Wapello County has completed vaccination series for 14.3% of its residents as of Friday, or a total of 5,016. Another 3,233 have received their first dose.

The number of residents receiving all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in area counties include 1,908 in Jefferson, 1,507 in Appanoose, 1,249 in Monroe, 1,074 in Davis and 828 in Van Buren.

Kyle Ocker is the 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 president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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