Iowa still ranks among nation’s COVID-19 hot spots with new cases up 21% over past two weeks

Iowa remains a national hot spot for COVID-19. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Iowa continues to rank among the nation’s hot spots for COVID-19, the virus that has disrupted the economy, schools, and lives. 

Johns Hopkins University on Monday reported Iowa had a COVID test positivity rate of 25.5% over the week ending Oct. 17, and 18.75% in the past month. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 12% of the 832,536 tests in Iowa were positive, the university reported Monday morning. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported the most recent daily positivity rate was 12%, about the same as the 11.9% rate since the pandemic started. 

The World Health Organization recommends that gathering places such as schools and businesses remain closed until the COVID test positivity rate has been 5% or less for two weeks. Gov. Kim Reynolds, citing the need to boost the economy and to address Iowans’ mental health needs, has reopened businesses and schools, with cleaning protocols and distancing requirements aimed at reducing exposures.

The United States has seen a 30% jump in the number of new cases over the past two weeks, with 47,601 added on Sunday, the New York Times reported. The number of deaths dropped by 1% in the same period, with 368 deaths recorded Sunday.  

Since the pandemic started, the U.S. has had 8.1 million COVID cases and 219,541 deaths from the illness, according to the Times. 

In comparison, Iowa’s rate of new cases jumped 21% over the past two weeks, the Times reported, with the number of deaths dropping 1%. Iowa has recorded 107,334 cases and 1,532 deaths since the pandemic started.

Iowa recorded 636 new cases Sunday, less than half the reading of some days last week. The state listed four COVID deaths Sunday, less than half the average of 10 a day for the most recent seven days, the Times reported.

But Iowa’s COVID rate continues to stand out nationally, part of a Midwestern surge in cases.

Iowa currently ranks ninth-highest in the country in per capita COVID cases, the  Times reported. North Dakota and South Dakota top the list, Wisconsin is fourth and Nebraska, fifth. 

The Times reported that Dubuque has the 12th highest per capita rate in the country. Ranking higher are mostly Midwestern cities, including Bismarck, North Dakota, at No. 2, behind Rexburg, Idaho. Also ranking in the top 12  as of Monday morning were Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Minot, North Dakota; and Joplin, Missouri. 

Sioux City ranked 16th-highest for per capita number of cases, and ranks as the third hardest-hit city in the country since the pandemic started. No other Iowa cities were in the top 20. 

Iowa saw fewer COVID patients admitted to hospitals in the past 24 hours, the health department reported at 10 a.m. Monday, 63 compared with 84 the previous 24-hour period. The number of patients in intensive care rose to 113 from 108. Overall, 480 COVID patients were hospitals, up from 475 the day before.

The Iowa state health department listed 64 current outbreaks in nursing homes. Since the pandemic started, 771 Iowans have died at the facilities.