OTTUMWA — The 102nd resident of Wapello County has died from the coronavirus, according to new state data on Friday.

The Iowa Department of Public Health added a newly confirmed death of a Wapello County male over the age of 80 with pre-existing conditions to the state’s data on Friday. It was one of 34 new deaths reported by the state, which included deaths that occurred from November through Feb. 3.

The state takes days, and many times weeks, to report deaths while officials work to verify the information. To date, Iowa has reported 5,067 deaths since the pandemic began.

Wapello County had nine new cases of the virus confirmed, on a day the state reported 795 new cases from 3,398 new individuals tested. There were five new cases in Appanoose, four in Van Buren, three in Jefferson and three in Monroe.

In terms of percent of residents who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, Jefferson County leads the Courier’s coverage area. To date, 1.7% of residents, or 313, have received both required doses, which ranks 51st in the state.

Wapello County ranks 62 in the state with about 534, or 1.7% of residents, having received both doses. Ranking near the bottom are Monroe (90th) and Van Buren (95th).

Statewide, about 2.3% of Iowans have received both doses.

In Wapello County, about 1,143 residents have received the first shot. The second dose is due after 21 or 28 days, depending on the vaccine manufacturer.

In a press conference on Thursday — the day Iowa crossed 5,000 total pandemic deaths — Gov. Kim Reynolds acknowledged frustrations from Iowans about the vaccine rollout.

During her weekly news conference, Reynolds said the state will begin seeking proposals from vendors on a statewide system for vaccination scheduling. Those proposals were due on Friday.

The move to “quickly stand up a centralized vaccine registration and referral system” comes more than 333 days since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Iowa, and 52 days since the first Iowan received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Asked by a reporter why the effort was just now beginning, Reynolds said the state is hoping to streamline the process in anticipation of vaccine supply increasing.

To date, the state has worked exclusively with various providers around the state, and each local county public health, to manage vaccine rollout.

Iowa is the third-lowest state in the nation in terms of the rate of vaccinations to its citizens, according to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reynolds said the state is working to do better, but also working through federal channels to try to get an increase in allocations.

“That’s not where we need to be,” Reynolds said. “We want to do better, we know we can do better.”

She said the state is reaching out to the individual counties, particularly those that aren’t fully using their allotments, to help remove roadblocks. Iowa will also work to eliminate the uncertainty by committing to giving local officials a three-week quarantine for doses.

“The more certainty that we can provide them, I think you’re going to start to see the percentages go up,” Reynolds said.

On Friday, hospitalizations in Iowa were down to 348 as of Friday morning, with 66 in an intensive care unit.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at 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 president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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