Iowa sets another COVID hospitalization record; deaths up 16% in two weeks

By: - October 21, 2020 3:37 pm

Drawing of coronavirus cells. (Image via National Foundation for Infectious Diseases)

Three key signs of how the coronavirus pandemic is progressing in Iowa were all up sharply the past couple of days.

— Hospitalizations hit another record Wednesday at 534, up from Tuesday’s record of 501, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported.  

Iowa has seen a two-week jump in deaths of 16% as of Tuesday, according to New York Times data. The state added 28 deaths on Tuesday, one of the highest numbers of the entire pandemic. That brought the total COVID-19 deaths in Iowa to 1,576, according to the Times’ count. 

— Iowa’s COVID-19 case total hit 109,210 on Tuesday, up 35% in two weeks. The state added 1,096 cases on Tuesday alone, the Times reported. On a per-capita basis, the highest infection rates were in Harrison, Cass, Winnebago, Des Moines, Adair, Delaware and Dubuque counties, the newspaper added.

The state health department reported 90 people were admitted to the hospital for COVID in the past 24 hours, as of 2 p.m. Wednesday. That was up from 71 the day before. 

There were other signs of trouble.

The number of COVID patients in intensive care rose to 134 on Wednesday, up from 122 on Tuesday, the state reported. More than a third, 35%, of Iowa’s hospital beds remained available, a number that has held steady in recent days. 

As of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, 49 patients were on ventilators, up 36% from 36 on Oct. 1, state records show. 

Iowa had 14 school districts with test positivity rates of more than 15% as of Wednesday, based on 14-day averages, the health department reported. 

As nursing homes continue to be hot spots, the state reported 68 outbreaks at the long-term care facilities as of Wednesday. So far, 1,748 residents and staff members have tested positive at the centers, and 787 have died.

Nationally, 8.3 million people have contracted the virus in the United States, and the daily average has jumped 36% in two weeks, the Times reported. The number of daily deaths has risen 7% nationally, with a total for the pandemic of 221,571.

Iowa continues to have the ninth-highest per capita infection rate in the country, according to the Times.

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.