Iowa’s recent COVID-19 hospitalizations set a new record

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)

Already ranked among the states with the worst infection rates, Iowa now has reached its highest-ever rate of new COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The rolling count of new COVID-19 hospital admissions in Iowa, as calculated by the state over a two-week period, hit 775 on Sunday. That was just five days after reaching what was then an all-time high of 709. Prior to that, the previous high was 593 new admissions over a two-week period, reached on Sept. 8.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have grown steadily in Iowa over the past two weeks, but now show signs of leveling off. On Monday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported there were 389 Iowans hospitalized with the virus — down from the 407 reported on Thursday, which was the highest number since early May.

Statewide, there still are 3,130 hospital beds, and 447 intensive care unit beds, available, according to IDPH.

Six additional coronavirus deaths and 442 new infections were reported in Iowa on Sunday, according to the New York Times’ COVID-19 tracker. Over the past week, there have been an average of 874 cases per day, an increase of 7% from the average two weeks earlier.

As of Monday afternoon, there have been at least 92,914 cases and 1,387 deaths in Iowa since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Times.

According to CDC data, Iowa ranks eighth among the states with the highest rates of infection, and is now averaging 28 new cases per day, per 100,000 residents. That number is based on a seven-day rolling average of the new infections that are reported each day.

By that same calculation, the seven states with worse infection rates are, in order, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho, Utah and Nebraska.

As is usually the case, the New York Times’ single-day tally of Iowa’s new infections and deaths conflicts with what is being reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

According to the IDPH COVID-19 website, there were only 79 new infections — not the 442 reported by the New York Times — and one death on Sunday.

State public health officials have acknowledged problems with data reporting, but only after those issues have come to light through media reports. The agency has blamed what it calls an “antiquated” computer system as the reason it had been under-reporting daily case counts earlier this summer.

Statewide, there are 52 nursing homes with current, active outbreaks in the week. There are 1,181 infections associated with those outbreaks.

The Iowa nursing home with the most infections associated with a current outbreak is the Good Samaritan home in Ottumwa, with 88 infections.

Currently, there are five Polk County nursing homes with active outbreaks, and the number of staff and resident infections at those homes now totals 58.

The Polk County facilities, and the total number of staff and resident infections at each, are:

Iowa Jewish Senior Life Center: 16

On With Life: 6

Parkridge Specialty Care: 20

ManorCare of West Des Moines: 12

Mitchell Village Care Center: 4