DES MOINES — Wapello County has another confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus, state officials have said, bringing the total to 10. It was one of 349 new cases announced Monday.

State officials said nine more people have died from the virus.

The news came as Gov. Kim Reynolds said most Iowa counties will be able to begin easing restrictions on May 1.

The new case made Wapello County the first area county to hit double digits, though that figure is still low compared to a number of other counties in Iowa. There continues to be a discrepancy between the state’s figure and local officials’ count, though both agree there has been one new positive test.

Wapello County Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Richmond said Monday the difference is due to the fact local officials do followup research, while the state reports preliminary results. He said one of the cases the state is counting does not live in Wapello County.

Of more concern is the fact the state’s tracking of tests being conducted. A total of 257 people have been tested in Wapello County. The figure increased Monday by only one after several days of increasing by much larger numbers. In fact, nearly a quarter of all the COVID-19 tests in Wapello County have been given since last Thursday.

Reynolds said Iowa’s testing has increased significantly over the past week, giving officials a better picture of how widely the virus has spread. “Currently, on a per-capita basis, one in every 82 Iowans have been tested for COVID-19,” she said.

Reynolds said the virus will not be stopped until a vaccine is available and that “we must learn to live with COVID virus activity.” She has repeatedly spoken over the past week about efforts to reopen portions of the state’s economy.

Most Iowa counties, including all in the Ottumwa area, will be allowed to open restaurants at 50 percent capacity beginning May 1. Malls will also be able to reopen provided they do not exceed 50 percent of their capacities.

The same 50 percent restrictions will apply to fitness centers and retail stores. Restrictions on religious gatherings are being lifted, though Reynolds said social gatherings should still be restricted to 10 or fewer people.

While some restrictions are being lifted, Reynolds said that does not mean everyone should immediately resume normal activities.

“I strongly encourage all vulnerable Iowans, including those with pre-existing conditions, and those older than 65 throughout the state to continue to limit their activities outside their homes,” she said.

Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter @mwmilner

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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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