Iowa’s COVID-19 numbers appear to drop after a recent spike

COVID-19 cells (Photo via Ohio.gov)

After the number of COVID-19 infections and death spiked in Iowa, the numbers have turned downward in recent days — although there are still wide variations in the data being reported out of Iowa.

Last Wednesday, Iowa reported 18 deaths of people with coronavirus, the highest single-day total in six weeks. On July 10, the number of new infections in Iowa hit 916, a record high for Iowa.

As usual, the daily number of new infections reported for Iowa varies depending on the source of information. Since Friday, however, the daily count of new infections in Iowa has hovered between 400 and 500, according to the New York Times. The daily count of new infections has been significantly lower, ranging  from 300 to 400, in data reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

On Sunday, July 19, IDPH reported 320 new cases and one death. For that same day, the Reuters news agency reported 816 new cases in Iowa along with seven additional deaths, while the New York Times reported 499 new cases and three additional deaths.

Some variation in those numbers is to be expected as IDPH’s website updates infection counts throughout each day — although the updates wouldn’t account for major discrepancies days after the fact, as is the case now.

The number of deaths each day over the weekend has ranged from three to five, according to the New York Times.

On Sunday, IDPH issued a press release saying “a significant number of COVID-19 test results were not reported over the weekend due to a backlog that occurred in IDPH’s electronic reporting system.” The agency said the backlog was being addressed and that case counts would be updated as usual. It wasn’t clear Monday whether the backlog had been cleared or the case counts were still being under-reported.

There are currently 16 COVID-19 outbreaks in Iowa nursing homes, involving 437 infections. A total of 425 Iowans in long-term care have died of the virus, according to IDPH.

According to Reuters, 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.

According to the Center for Public Integrity, Iowa was among 18 states in a so-called “red zone” for COVID-19 cases last week, 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.