State might soon share info on how COVID-19 patients are faring

By: - March 19, 2020 2:50 pm
Nurses' station in a busy hospital.

Iowa has set a new record for hospitalizations of people with COVID-19. (Photo by FS Productions/Getty Images)

The state of Iowa has yet to tell the public whether, or how well, individual COVID-19 patients are recovering — but that could soon change.

The Iowa Department of Public Health has been providing the public with regular updates on the number of Iowans tested for the virus and the number of tests that have come back positive for COVID-19.

But when asked whether the department would eventually provide updates on the recovery of the Iowans who have tested positive, spokeswoman Amy McCoy said Wednesday, “Hospitalizations are something we may report in the future as numbers grow, but right now, the numbers are low so we wouldn’t share that data. Beyond that, we would not be updating on the individuals’ personal health information.”

When asked to confirm that, she said Thursday, “I anticipate that as the response continues and the epidemiological work changes, those types of details will be posted. Some additional data should post as soon as this evening/tomorrow. Recovery will likely be a part of the continuing data that we share in the coming weeks.”

The department identifies Iowa’s COVID-19 patients by their county of residence and by an age range of roughly 20 years.

Some states are already disclosing recovery information on specific, but unidentified, patients. As of last week, at least 15 Americans with confirmed coronavirus were said to have made full recoveries. Four are in Nebraska, six are in California, two are in Illinois, and there is one each in Arizona, Wisconsin and Washington.

According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, there were 235,701 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide as of Thursday afternoon. At the same time, there were 9,786 deaths, and 84,960 reported recoveries.

According to the coronavirus resource center at Harvard Medical School, most of the people afflicted with mild cases of COVID-19 recover in one or two weeks, while those with more severe cases can take six weeks to recover.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.