This is an image of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the disease that flared in Wuhan, China, in late December.

OSKALOOSA — Almost 2,000 new cases of the coronavirus were reported by state officials, along with 15 more deaths.

Deaths are often delayed by days and weeks as state officials work to confirm the cause of death before adding them to the state’s coronavirus data dashboard.

Of the 15 deaths reported for the first time Wednesday morning, two of them occurred as far back as Nov. 29. As of Wednesday morning, the deadliest single day is Nov. 19, when 71 Iowans died. Since the pandemic reached Iowa in March, 3,668 have died.

There were 1,999 new cases of the virus reported between 10 a.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. There have been 271,019 Iowans who have tested positive for the virus, and 222,068 have recovered.

There were 31 new cases reported in Marion County, and 21 in Mahaska County.

None of the new deaths were reported in Herald-area counties.

The 14-day positivity rate remained steady in Iowa at 12.6%. The rate was up in both Herald-area counties, to 19.2% in Mahaska and 18.5% in Marion.

Iowa reported 644 hospitalizations, which was down slightly from the prior day. There were 139 in an intensive care unit, also down from the prior day. New admissions, however, were up from the prior day, to 113 in the last 24 hours.

As of the latest data from Monday afternoon, hospitalizations of Mahaska County residents remained at eight and Marion County’s rose to six.

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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