Virus Outbreak Florida

A worker prepares a collection tube during COVID-19 tests for first responders, Thursday at Hialeah Fire Station #1, in Hialeah, Florida.

OTTUMWA — Local officials said Tuesday evening three more Wapello County residents have died with the coronavirus.

The new deaths up the total to 79 deaths in Wapello County since the pandemic began. The new deaths were two individuals over the age of 80-years-old and another over the age of 40-years-old.

Local officials announced the death after Iowa surpassed another grim milestone Tuesday and continued record levels of hospitalizations around the state.

Between Monday and Tuesday, there were 33 new deaths reported in Iowa, causing the state to reach more than 2,000 deaths. As of Tuesday morning, 2,024 Iowans have died with COVID-19 in the pandemic.

It took the state five months to reach 1,000 deaths, but just three months to hit 2,000. A model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation currently projects Iowa will hit 3,000 deaths by mid-December and 4,000 by late January.

There were 3,563 new cases of the coronavirus reported in Iowa in the 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning. Of those, 36 were reported in Wapello County, 27 in Jefferson, 17 in Appanoose, six in Van Buren, five in Monroe and two in Davis.

Hospitalizations around the state continued at record levels for a 10th straight day. There were 1,510 in a hospital with COVID-19 as of Tuesday morning, a record. Also a record were the 288 patients in an intensive care unit.

COVID-19 patients make up more than a quarter of all hospitalizations in the state. There were 215 patients admitted in the last 24 hours, according to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Local hospitals have been feeling the squeeze as the hospital system stretches to deal with the influx of COVID-19 patients.

Davis County Hospitals & Clinics, the county hospital in Bloomfield, pleaded with its community to try to control virus spread.

“Now, our hospitals are experiencing the highest level of COVID-19 related hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic,” a statement read Tuesday. “Our hospitals are not yet at capacity and remain prepared to care for those in need. However, we must band together and act now to lower the transmission rates so we [can] lower the risk of overwhelming our health care systems.”

As of Sunday afternoon, the latest county-level data made available by the state, there were 12 Appanoose County residents hospitalized with COVID-19. There were six from Wapello, five from Monroe, four from Davis, four from Jefferson and four from Van Buren.

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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