COVID-19 deaths spike in Iowa as infections continue to climb

This is a new image of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the disease that flared in Wuhan, China, in late December and has killed nearly 2,000 people. (Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Lab)

Eighteen Iowans are reported to have died of the coronavirus on Wednesday, the highest single-day total in six weeks.

Although the the Iowa Department of Public Health was reporting on Thursday that only two or three Iowans had died of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the New York Times’ database, which includes probable as well as confirmed cases of COVID-19, showed 18 deaths in Iowa. That number is consistent with the difference in the cumulative, total number of deaths that IDPH reported between Wednesday and Thursday.

Similarly, the number of new infections was reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health to be 628 on July 10, the same day the New York Times database was reporting 916 new cases for the day — a record high for Iowa.

According to the Reuters news service, on July 12 Iowa posted an almost 30% increase in the weekly number of new infections. Only 12 other states reported a bigger one-week gain in the number of new infections.

The New York Times’ data also shows the number of infections in Iowa is continuing a sharp upward climb that began on June 20, with an additional 594 cases reported on Wednesday. The New York Times counts confirmed cases of the virus as well as those considered “probable” according to the standards established by the federal government.

As of Thursday morning, IDPH was reporting 195 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 65 of those patients in intensive care. Thirty patients had been admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, Iowa is currently among 18 states in a so-called “red zone” for COVID-19 cases, meaning they had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population last week.

The list of states is contained in a document prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The document, dated July 14, has not been publicized by the task force.

Dr. Deborah Birx, a leader of the task force, has publicly referenced earlier versions of what appears to be the same report, which is updated weekly and sent to governors. She has said “a series” of states that are in the red zone should consider limiting public gatherings.

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.