Virus Outbreak Hospitals Prepare

A nurse at a drive up coronavirus testing station set up by the University of Washington Medical Center holds a swab used to take a sample from the nose of a person in a car March 13 in Seattle.

OTTUMWA — Cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations continued to rise across the region, as two new outbreaks at long-term care facilities were also reported.

In Appanoose County, the Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed that the Golden Age Care Center in Centerville is experiencing an outbreak. As of 10 a.m. Saturday, state data reported 11 cases of the coronavirus there.

In Wapello, state officials said there’s a new outbreak at the Vista Woods Care Center in Ottumwa, where there’s five cases reported. The nursing home had an outbreak of the coronavirus earlier this year, when 29 residents and 11 staff members had ultimately tested positive for the coronavirus.

Wapello County added 20 new cases of COVID-19 between Friday and Saturday.

Iowa, meanwhile, had another record day for both virus growth and hospitalizations. State data showed 2,823 new cases of the virus in the last 24 hours — a single day record.

Hospitalizations rose to 630 around the state, another new record. There are 153 patients in an intensive care unit across the state. The Iowa Department of Public Health says there are 366 ICU beds available, the lowest number yet.

Nine were hospitalized in Wapello County, according to the latest available state data from Thursday afternoon. There were three hospitalized in Van Buren, two in Appanoose, one in Monroe and one in Jefferson.

There were 10 new deaths, but none in the Courier’s coverage area. There have been 1,715 die with COVID-19 in Iowa to date. The model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects Iowa will cross 2,000 deaths by mid-November, and have nearly 3,200 deaths by year’s end. A mask mandate could save more than 500 of those lives, the model projects.

Around the Courier’s coverage area, Jefferson County had eight new cases, and there were seven in Davis, six in Appanoose, five in Van Buren and one Monroe.

There are 147 active cases in Wapello County, according to state data. Jefferson has 120, Monroe 108, Appanoose 103, Van Buren 72 and Davis 64.

Iowa reported 7,714 new individuals were tested in the past day, and there were 916 new recoveries.

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.

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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