Virus Outbreak College Testing

James Robson, a biomedical engineering graduate student, holds a swab and specimen vial in the new COVID-19, on-campus testing lab, Thursday, July 23, 2020, at Boston University in Boston.

OTTUMWA — Wapello County has had 83 residents die due to COVID-19 as of Monday, officials announced.

The Wapello County Public Health Department said there were four more deaths of county residents from the coronavirus. Two of them were over the age of 60 and the other two were over the age of 80.

The Ottumwa Community School District said two more students have COVID-19, raising the district's total to 47 this school year. There were 135 students in quarantine as of Monday, according to district data.

There were no new cases reported from the district's staff. The district has seen 50 staff members test positive this school year. There are 13 staff members currently in quarantine.

Lower weekend testing numbers produced less new cases than recent numbers, but southeast Iowa still saw its fair share of new COVID-19 cases.

While lower than some recent days, Iowa still added 1,661 new cases of the coronavirus between Sunday and Monday, as testing was cut in half due to the weekend — a typical trend.

Wapello County and Appanoose County each added 19 new cases, while Monroe County had 11 new cases of the coronavirus. There were three new cases in Jefferson County and two in Davis.

The Parkview Care Center in Jefferson County was added to the state's reporting of long-term care facility outbreaks. They have had nine cases of the virus in the last two weeks.

Local hospitalizations were up to 16 in Wapello County and down to 12 in Appanoose, as of the latest available state numbers from Saturday.

Davis County had another death reported, the county's fifth in the pandemic.

Statewide, there were 1,333 hospitalized with COVID-19, with 273 in an intensive care unit. There were 135 admitted in the last 24 hours.

There were 13 new deaths in Iowa, 5,017 new individuals tested for the first time and 502 new recoveries.

Wapello County was up to 814 active cases of the coronavirus, according to state data. There were 491 in Appanoose, 373 in Jefferson, 242 in Davis, 167 in Monroe and 148 in Van Buren.

The 14-day average rate of positive test results was largely stable across the region. Appanoose County was flat at 27.4%, while Monroe and Van Buren were both up to 24%. The rest of the counties in the Courier's coverage area were slightly down, with Davis at 26.1%, Wapello at 23.3% and Jefferson at 21.3%.

Hy-Vee announced Monday it'll resume an early morning shopping time reserved for those in high-risk groups for COVID-19.

From 7-8 a.m. on Monday through Friday, Hy-Vee stores will only be open to those 60 years old or older, expecting mothers, and anyone with underlying health conditions. The stores' practice resumed Monday.

As hospitalizations continue around the state at near-record levels, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has begun to care for some patients with a "virtual hospital" model.

Iowa's top hospital in Iowa City has allowed more than 1,000 patients into its Home Treatment Team. The program is for COVID-19 patients at increased risk of worse outcomes but with a condition not quite severe enough to require hospitalization.

Even if patients ultimately need hospitalized, the program can decrease the length of stay, according to the hospital.

Patients are able to track their blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and blood oxygen levels daily and receive virtual visits by phone or video from providers to check on progress. If a patient begins to require more assistance, they can rapidly get to the hospital or emergency room to receive further care.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance last week, and said the "safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to celebrate at home with the people you live with."

Experts from the CDC, and local and state public health officials, have said small gatherings are contributing to the spread of the virus.

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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