Nearly 5,000 Iowans test positive for COVID-19 as hospitalizations nearly double

An image of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.(Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Lab)

Nearly 5,000 Iowans tested positive for COVID-19 in the past day and hospitalizations nearly doubled, the New York Times reported Friday morning

The state, which this week added a limited mask mandate, has seen an 87% jump in hospitalizations in two weeks. The number of deaths has risen 51%, the newspaper reported. 

The hospitalizations have strained capacities in Des Moines area hospitals and elsewhere in the state. As of Friday morning, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 1,227 patients with COVID-19 were hospitalized, and 240 were in intensive care, up 25 from the day before. 

In the 24 hours leading up to mid-morning Friday, 213 COVID-19 patients had been admitted to hospitals, up from 207 during the previous 24 hours. The number of inpatient beds available statewide has fallen to 338 from 446 on Oct. 1. 

As of Friday morning, 107 patients were on ventilators and 845 of the devices were still available. 

The state has averaged 4,372 new coronavirus cases per day recently over the past week, an increase of 178% from the average two weeks ago. Since the pandemic started, the state has recorded 173,401 cases and 1,947 deaths, according to the Times. 

Iowa had 4,944 new cases and 20 deaths on Thursday, according to the Times’ database.

Gov. Kim Reynolds this week said testing would be ramped up, and the state bought hundreds of thousands more kits. On Thursday, 10,099 tests were reported, with 2,912 positive. 

The state’s test positivity rate since the pandemic started had hovered around 12% for months, but has averaged 22.5% over the past two weeks, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported. One of three Iowans has had a test since the virus began to spread last spring. 

State educational officials have started approving more waivers to allow schools to hold all classes online until virus spread eases. Pfizer fueled optimism with promising news on its vaccine, which gave the stock market a temporary bump. 

All but four Iowa school districts reported test positivity rates above 15% on Friday morning, the state reported. That is one of the data points the Iowa Department of Education is using in considering waivers to the state’s rules favoring in-person classes. Jones County reported the highest rate, at 48.6%.

The White House coronavirus task force on Sunday again listed Iowa as a “red zone” for COVID-19 and among the top four states in infection rate.