Coronavirus Outbreak

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S.

OTTUMWA — Another 61 deaths were reported from the coronavirus in Iowa Wednesday, pushing the state’s pandemic death toll beyond 4,000.

Iowa reported another 2,785 cases of the virus, with 6,032 new individuals tested in the last 24 hours.

Wapello County saw 42 new cases of the coronavirus between Tuesday and Wednesday, according to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Wednesday was the largest 24-hour increase in cases for both the county and the state since Dec. 4.

Jefferson County added 29 cases, but also saw two more residents die from COVID-19. Both residents had pre-existing conditions and were older than 70. One was a female and one was a male, state data showed.

Monroe County added 10 new cases of the virus while its 14-day positivity rate continues to be the highest in the state, growing to 32.4%.

Appanoose County added nine new cases, while Davis added eight and Van Buren added five.

To date, 4,060 have died in Iowa from complications caused by the coronavirus, officials say. The death reports are delayed by days and weeks as officials confirm the data. All of the deaths reported on Wednesday occurred in either November or December.

The state’s number of active cases rose, as did its 14-day positivity rate. There are 35,537 active cases of the virus in Iowa. In the last two weeks, 14.1% of tests taken have returned positive.

Hospitalizations rose above 600 again, with 604 hospitalized with COVID-19 around the state. There were 116 in an intensive care unit. New admissions jumped up to 125 in the last 24 hours.

Vaccinations continue across the state, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that 120,175 Iowans have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to data from Tuesday morning. Iowa has received 120,175 doses so far.

In order to be effective, each person will need to receive two doses of the vaccine, with the doses about three to four weeks apart. The two vaccines currently approved for use in the United States — made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech — have been shown to be 95% effective against the coronavirus in studies.

The Wapello County Public Health Department said Monday that vaccinations are continuing, but it may be mid-year before the vaccine is widely available to the public. Until then, they say practicing mitigation strategies like social distancing, wearing a mask, and staying home when sick are important to mitigate virus spread.

The state is currently distributing the vaccine to the group in Phase 1A, which includes front-line health care workers and long-term care residents and staff.

State officials are still reviewing recommendations on the next phase of vaccine rollout in Iowa.

Across the United States, about 4.8 million have received the first dose of the vaccine and 17 million doses have been made available.

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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