As the United States surpasses 400,000 coronavirus deaths, a rural Iowa county that was one of the last to report a confirmed case now tops Iowa’s list for 14-day average positivity. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

A rural Iowa county that was second-to-last to confirm its first coronavirus case last spring now has the dismal distinction of having the state’s highest 14-day positivity average.

Ringgold County, in far southern Iowa, reported a 24.9 percent average as of 10 a.m. Jan. 19, 2021, surpassing Monroe County, which held the top spot since the beginning of January.

Related: Iowa surpasses chilling coronavirus death toll

Both counties — Monroe is also in southern Iowa — occasionally topped Iowa’s list in December, as well.

Marshall County, in central Iowa, had the state’s lowest 14-day positivity average as of the morning of Jan. 19, at 5.9 percent.

Iowa’s first COVID-19 cases were reported March 8, 2020, while Ringgold County reported its first case on May 19. Neighboring Decatur County was the last in Iowa to record a positive case, on May 28. With a population of just under 5,000 people, Ringgold has had  433 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

While that number is low compared to larger counties, its 8,716 cases per 100,000 population is higher than other more populous ones, including Linn County’s 7,863 cases per 100,000. Iowa reported 306,233 confirmed cases as of the morning of Jan. 19.

The state reported administering 142,614 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of Jan. 18, out of 269,000 doses that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reported have been distributed to Iowa.

Ringgold County has reported nine deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, while Iowa has reported a total of 4,332 deaths as of Jan. 19.

The United States has now surpassed 400,000 COVID-19 deaths, one day before Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are inaugurated as president and vice president. The new administration has vowed to prioritize combating the pandemic.

Meanwhile, another Republican lawmaker has died of COVID-19, this time in Minnesota. Republican legislators in Minnesota have shunned mask mandates, just as Iowa Republican leaders have done.

More: Iowa Republican legislators forego mask mandate; are next in line for vaccine