This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Image captured and colorized at NIAID's Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana.

OSKALOOSA — The White House Coronavirus Task Force is recommending the state consider pausing extra curricular activities, among other things, as Iowa’s virus spread continues.

There were 33 new cases of the coronavirus reported in Marion County between Monday and Tuesday, and 23 reported in Mahaska County in that period.

Hospitalizations were down slightly in the area, according to the latest available state data from Sunday. There were 14 hospitalized from Marion County and three hospitalized from Mahaska County.

Iowa continued to see rising case growth. The task force report, which isn’t publicly released by the task force but was obtained and published by ABC News, notes that while the state’s spread slowed somewhat last week, it’s still more than double the national average.

Nearly one-third of Iowa’s nursing homes had at least one new resident COVID-19 cases, the task force reported. Nearly two-thirds had a new case within the nursing home staff.

Other suggestions from the task force report included additional mitigation efforts and messaging. The report noted hospitalizations were rising among all age groups.

Gov. Kim Reynolds had scheduled a COVID-19 press conference for Tuesday morning, but it was not completed before the Herald went to press.

Iowa added 3,860 cases between Monday and Tuesday, and 19 more deaths were reported. There were 9,790 new people tested and 2,878 new recoveries reported.

Hospitalizations remained shy of records, but near them. There were 1,351 Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday morning, and 275 in an intensive care unit. There were 165 new admissions in the last 24 hours.

Active cases in Marion County pushed upward again, to 865. There were 494 active cases reported by the state in Mahaska County.

The 14-day positivity rate was down slightly, to 22.8%, in Marion County and steady at 19.1% in Mahaska County. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies a 5% rate in a community as a hot spot.

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 Oskaloosa Herald relies on data reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health, using its coronavirus data dashboard at 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.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Oskaloosa Herald and the Ottumwa Courier. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Group Editor

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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