Almost two-thirds of Iowa’s COVID-19 cases not hospitalized

An image of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.(Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Lab)

Iowa reported 21 additional positive cases of COVID-19 Wednesday morning, for a total of 145 positive cases.

The Iowa Department of Public Health says that of the 107 cases now being tracked, 71 have never — at least yet — been hospitalized; 23 are currently hospitalized; 12 have been discharged from the hospital and are recovering; and one, a Dubuque County resident between 61 and 80 years of age, has died.

The department says its hospitalization data excludes cases still being investigated, which is why the number of hospitalization cases now being tracked is less than the number of currently confirmed cases.

Nationally, the rate of hospitalization for COVID-19 cases involving young and middle-age adults ranges from 15% to 20%, and ranges from 31% to 70% for adults over the age of 85.

Demographically, Iowa is one of the older states in the nation, with roughly 17% of the population age 65 or older. That means its population is, generally speaking, more at risk from the effects of COVID-19. Of Iowa’s 145 confirmed cases, 39 involve Iowans younger than 41, and 106 involve Iowans 41 or older.

Because some individuals not currently hospitalized may require inpatient care in the future, and because some individuals now hospitalized will eventually be discharged, hospitalization data fluctuates even when the individual cases being tracked remains constant.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the locations and age ranges of the 21 new, positive-tested individuals are:

  • Allamakee County: One middle-aged adult, 41-60 years of age.
  • Benton County: Two middle-aged adults, 41 to 60 years of age.
  • Hancock County: One middle-aged adult, 41 to 60 years of age.
  • Johnson County: Four young adults age 18 to 40; one middle-aged adult, 41 to 60 years of age; and one older adult, 61 to 80 years of age.
  • Linn County: One middle-aged adult, 41 to 60 years of age.
  • Muscatine County: One young adult, 18 to 40 year of age.
  • Polk County: Three older adults, 61 to 80 years of age.
  • Poweshiek County: Two older adults, 61 to 80 years of age.
  • Scott County: Two middle-aged adults, 41 to 60 years old.
  • Washington County: Two young adults, 18 to 40 years of age.

Nationally, there were at least 60,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning. At least 807 people have died of the virus in the United States, including 285 people in New York state.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday said she had received notification that President Trump approved her request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for COVID-19. Reynolds said the approval will provide Iowa with additional federal resources.

“This outbreak is an unprecedented crisis for the entire nation and it’s going to take a whole-of-government approach to limit the spread of the virus and provide economic relief to all of those impacted,” she said in a written statement.

Reynolds had also requested activation of the federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling programs and statewide Hazard Mitigation Assistance funding. Those elements of her request are still being considered.

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.