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 — Another individual with COVID-19 has died in Marion County, while neighboring Mahaska County added eight new cases Thursday.

The data is the change in totals reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health from 10 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Thursday.

The number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Marion County increased by one to nine since the pandemic began. Marion County added four new cases Thursday.

Mahaska County is one of 29 Iowa counties in a red zone, as determined by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Their report, which is not released publicly but was obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, from Monday said that results from Sept. 19-25 were positive more than 10% of the time in Mahaska County and that cases increased more than 11%.

The state of Iowa, according to the report, had the sixth-highest rate for new cases in the nation last week. The report said the state is in “a vulnerable position” going into the fall and winter months as high levels of case growth have been sustained over the last four weeks.

New cases in Iowa the week of Sept. 19-25 were up 13% over the prior week.

The report recommended that Iowa implement a statewide mask mandate, limit indoor dining and bars, and to use metrics like West Virginia to determine school learning and extracurricular activities. Iowa has not implemented any of those measures.

The report indicates three different zones where cases or the rate of positive tests are increasing: red, orange and yellow.

Cities in red zones included Oskaloosa, Ottumwa, Sioux City, Dubuque, Spencer and Spirit Lake.

Counties in red zones included Mahaska, Wapello, Monroe, Woodbury, Dubuque, Sioux, Henry, Plymouth, Jasper, Crawford, Lyon, Delaware, O'Brien, Kossuth, Chickasaw, Winnebago, Sac, Floyd, Jackson, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Ida, Palo Alto, Osceola, Lucas, Fremont, Audubon and Monona.

In the orange zone are Pella and Marion County.

Iowa had another day of four-digit growth. The state added 1,057 new cases of the disease. There were also 16 new deaths, raising the state’s total dead since the start of the pandemic to 1,358.

The top-five counties in Iowa in terms of case growth were Woodbury (98), Polk (95), Dubuque (74), Linn (46), and Dallas (38).

The state also added 6,634 new individuals tested and 1,185 new individuals recovered.

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.

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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