OTTUMWA — Wednesday’s hopeful signs with COVID numbers in Wapello County didn’t quite pan out as it first appeared. State officials wound up counting seven new cases after glitches in the reporting system were fixed.

That’s still a comparatively low number for a day, but testing was down sharply as well. State data showed only 66 tests completed for Wapello County residents. Wapello County was at 628 positive tests at 5 p.m. Thursday, according to state figures, with about the same number of test results reported.

The update from county officials Thursday afternoon put the county’s total at 604 cases, with 18 people hospitalized. Both state and local figures show more than half of Wapello County patients have recovered.

Appanoose County saw two new cases confirmed. One was a female between ages 18-40, while the second was a juvenile male. Both are receiving medical care and the county’s public health department is working to identify those who have been in contact with either person.

On Wednesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds said increased testing “continues to be a critical piece of Iowa’s recovery.” She said the state’s capacity for testing has increased significantly. There were 10,714 COVID-19 tests in Iowa in March. That rose to 53,886 in April, and 124,949 tests in May.

The percentage of positive tests, an important measure for determining whether testing is adequate to monitor the spread of the virus, has been stable at around 10 percent since mid-May.

“May was our opportunity to ramp up TestIowa, not only to improve access and testing in communities across the state, but also to better enable us to manage virus activity over time,” Reynolds said.

Long-term care facilities, which have been locked down statewide, may be getting closer to opening to visitors. State epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati said the state is offering facilities guidance on reopening to visitors. She said understanding virus activity in the community is key in order for facilities to make good decisions.

Pedati said the state will help care facilities conduct baseline testing and prioritize symptomatic residents and staff.

“We’re also going to offer facility-wide testing when a case is identified,” Pedati said, “and we’re also going to offer repeat weekly testing in order to help facilities manage these kinds of clusters.”

Reynolds thanked families for their patience. “I know it hasn’t been easy, but it really was a necessary step,” she said.

Reynolds said the state has not yet hit the full testing capacity of 3,000 tests per day, but that the increase in testing and the stable positive rate has allowed reopening of many businesses. As things activities begin to resume, Bridge View Center is asking area residents to take an online survey as it reopens its doors.

Like other entertainment venues across Iowa, Bridge View shut down as efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 took effect. The majority have been allowed to reopen with some restrictions, and Bridge View is trying to gauge patrons’ views as it plans the next steps.

Many of the questions in the survey ask about whether people are comfortable with steps like wearing masks and whether sitting near others would be a concern. Others ask about how many events people attend and whether they plan to return to events like Wednesday Lunch in the Lobby.

The survey can be found at https://www.venuworkspresents.com/fansurveyottumwa.

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

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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