KNOXVILLE — Another 53 residents of Marion County have contracted the coronavirus, according to state data.

The number drove a rise in active cases to 737, as of 10 a.m. Thursday according to state data. The positivity rate is 24.3% in Marion County.

The state reported a surge in local hospitalizations, with 22 from Marion County and 10 from Mahaska County hospitalized with COVID-19.

Mahaska County added nine cases of COVID-19 in the 24-hour span between Wednesday and Thursday morning. The positivity rate was 20.6%.

Statewide hospitalizations were shy of record numbers for the first time in 12 days. The state reported 1,516 were hospitalized in Iowa, with 286 in an intensive care unit.

Iowa added 4,195 new cases of the coronavirus between Wednesday and Thursday, with 38 new deaths in that time. There were 10,426 Iowans tested for the first time and 1,490 Iowans reported to have recovered.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday the state is moving $14 million in federal coronavirus money to state facilities to provide help for expanding resources to keep up with the testing load.

A report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force for Iowa called the state’s recent spread as “exponential and unyielding.”

In a seven-minute prime-time address to Iowans Monday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced more mitigation rules as the state tries to slow the rampant, exponential spread of the coronavirus.

The Republican governor implored Iowans not to be complacent with the COVID-19 pandemic, warning the state's health system is unable to sustain the record volume of virus patients.

"If our healthcare system exceeds capacity, it's not just COVID-19 we will be fighting," she said. "Every Iowan who needs medical care will be put at risk. If an ambulance is transferring a COVID-19 patient, it may not be available to respond to an accident on a rural county road. If hospital beds are full, a loved one who suffers a heart attack or a stroke may have to be transported miles away to receive life-saving treatment."

Reynolds said while many cases of COVID-19 have been mild, the disease can have fatal impacts. Even while many Iowans experience mild symptoms, about 5% have required hospitalization at some point, Reynolds said.

Among the new mitigation requirements went into effect Tuesday until Dec. 10, are:

— Masks are required to be worn in an indoor public space if people are unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer.

— Indoor events and gatherings are limited to 15 people and outdoor gatherings are limited to 30 people. These gatherings include funeral and wedding receptions, family gatherings and conventions. Gatherings that occur in the workplace as part of normal operations are not restricted.

— High school, collegiate and professional sports may continue in the state. Reynolds, however, suspended all youth and adult organized sports in Iowa. Her previously announced spectator limits for high school sports and mask mandate, remain in effect.

— Restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls, bingo halls and indoor playgrounds are required to close at 10 p.m. and cannot host private gatherings of more than 15 people. Masks must be worn by staff who have direct contact with customers, and customers must wear masks when they are not seated at their table to eat or drink.

— At casinos, masks are required at all times.

— Hospitals are required to reduce inpatient elective procedures by 50%.

Reynolds closed a rare prime-time address for a governor by imploring Iowans to come together to mitigate virus spread. She also warned if the spread of COVID-19 continues to tax hospitals that another shutdown may loom.

"If Iowans don't buy into this, we lose," she said. "Businesses will close once again, more schools will be forced to go online, and our healthcare system will fail and our cost in human life will be high."

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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