OTTUMWA — City officials confirmed Friday afternoon an Ottumwa business has reported an employee tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. It was later confirmed the employee works for JBS

The city did not name the business in its statement. The employee does not live in Ottumwa and is receiving what the city called “appropriate medical care.”

“The business is proactively working with county leaders, health care partners, and county emergency management to ensure the health and safety of Wapello County residents,” the statement read.

The announcement came on the same day as Iowa announced its largest increase yet in COVID-19 cases. The state announced 56 new cases, including a second positive case in Mahaska County, and two more deaths from the virus.

Iowa began the week with fewer than 100 cases confirmed in the state. Early in the week the number of new cases each day was steady in the teens to low 20s.

That changed Thursday, when 34 new positive tests came back. Combined with Friday’s number, more than a third of the state’s total confirmed cases were announced in less than 48 hours.

On Thursday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a new round of business closures and extended the time for existing closures through the first week of April.

Officials continue to emphasize the need for people to limit their exposure to others and practice social distancing. People should wash their hands frequently and thoroughly. And it is imperative that people stay home if they feel sick.

Most cases will not require treatment beyond self-care and isolation at home. People who think they need additional treatment should contact their doctor’s office before going in. They may be given special instructions before arriving.

Those with severe difficulty breathing should call 911, but first responders may use different protocols than normal when responding. That may include sending a single person in protective clothing to ask screening questions before approaching.

Matt Milner can be reached at and followed on Twitter @mwmilner


Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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