COVID-19

OTTUMWA — Wapello County has 10 new cases of the COVID-19 disease, according to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health Friday morning.

The increase comes as the state as a whole added 754 new cases in a 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. Friday. There were 11 new deaths statewide in that period, but none inside the Courier’s coverage area.

Van Buren County saw an increase of four new COVID-19 cases, while Appanoose County saw three. There was one new case in Jefferson.

Wapello County is among eight counties in Iowa that the White House considers to be “red zones” for COVID-19. Wapello joined the list this week in the White House’s report, which was published by the New York Times.

The report was dated July 26, and was published by the Times on Tuesday. To be a red zone, a county must have more than 100 new cases per 100,000 in population and a positivity rate above 10 percent over the one-week period of July 18-24.

The White House recommends that counties in the red zone close bars and gyms, strict social distancing be put into place for restaurants and for face masks to be required by all businesses. None of those practices are currently implemented.

The Appanoose County Department of Public Health confirmed all three new cases, adding the new cases are an 18-40-year-old male, an 18-40-year-old female and a 61-80-year-old female.

Wapello County saw an additional 17 recoveries in the last 24 hours, while one patient recovered in Jefferson County.

That brings the active case total in Wapello to 50, according to state data. There are 14 active cases in Monroe, 12 in Jefferson, 10 in Van Buren, nine in Davis, and six in Appanoose.

At a press conference Thursday, Gov. Kim Reynolds continued her insistence that schools will resume classes in-person next month.

She outlined that districts must provide in-person learning as the primary method of instruction unless the county has a 14-day positivity rate of 15-20 percent, and if at least 10 percent of students are absent.

According to state data available at coronavirus.iowa.gov, Wapello County in a 14-day period between July 17-30 had a positivity rate of about 10.4 percent — that’s 86 positive tests out of 825 reported.

If a waiver is received during the school year for districts to switch to online learning, it would expire 14 days after it is granted. If over a two-week period a county’s positivity rate is above 20 percent, districts can also switch to virtual learning regardless of the district’s absentee rate.

Reynolds also said Thursday she would resume regular coronavirus press conferences, which will be live streamed and broadcast by Iowa PBS from their studios. The press conferences will be at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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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