OTTUMWA — A record number of Iowans were reported dead from the coronavirus on Sunday, including two more in Wapello County.

The Iowa Department of Public Health added 250 to the death toll for the state on Sunday. There were another five reported on Monday, raising the state’s pandemic toll to 4,906 since March.

Local deaths were included, with six of them coming from Monroe County — where COVID-19 is to blame for 26 deaths since March.

There were two new deaths in Wapello County, raising the pandemic’s death toll to 100. Another two died in Appanoose, raising the county’s total to 43.

Jefferson County added one more death, for a total of 29, and Davis County added one for a total of 23.

Deaths are commonly delayed by days and weeks before they are reported in the state’s coronavirus data, though most of the newly reported deaths came from January.

All 12 of the deaths in the Courier’s coverage area had pre-existing conditions. The youngest was a 60-69-year-old in Wapello, and the others were above the age of 70.

On Monday, the state reported just 295 new cases, but only 1,276 new individuals were tested.

There were seven new cases reported in Wapello and three in Jefferson.

Statewide, 368 were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday, slightly more than what was reported on Sunday. There were 92 in an intensive care unit, down from the prior day.

Testing has identified three cases in Iowa of the coronavirus variant strain found in the United Kingdom, Iowa public health officials said Monday.

The Associated Press reported that two of the cases were found in Johnson County in eastern Iowa and one in Bremer County in northeast Iowa.

Based on scientific study of the variant strain called B.1.1.7., researchers believe it can spread more easily than the original strain of COVID-19 and is believed to be deadlier. Current vaccines are believed to be effective against the strain.

Health officials said the emergence of new variants underscores the importance of wearing masks and taking precautions to avoid getting infected.

Vaccinations continue to occur, but at a slow pace in the area amidst shortages of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine sent to rural counties.

As of Monday evening, there have been 780 from Wapello County receive the first shot, and 260 have received both shots.

Kyle Ocker is the 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 president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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