COVID-19 infections and deaths on the rise in Iowa as vaccinations stall

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

The number of infections and deaths related to COVID-19 are on the rise again in Iowa, while the state’s vaccine distribution has slowed to the point where the governor expressed concern Thursday.

Iowa reported 61 additional deaths and 2,478 new infections of the deadly virus on Wednesday, according to the New York Times’ COVID-19 tracker.

The infection rate in Iowa has been increasing since Dec. 26, when the seven-day average of new, daily infections was 1,119. On Thursday, the seven-day average stood at 1,530. During that same period, the seven-day average of deaths each day has also increased, from 22 to 34.

As of Thursday afternoon, at least 66,051 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in Iowa, according to the Washington Post. That number equals 30% of the population prioritized for vaccines, and 2% of the state’s overall population.

During a meeting with reporters on Thursday, Gov. Kim Reynolds said the effort to immunize prioritized Iowans in nursing homes isn’t moving quickly enough. She said she plans to participate in a call with the CEOs of pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS to discuss the matter.

As of Thursday morning, 290,776 Iowans have been infected and 4,060 Iowans have died since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Times’ database.

The state health department on Thursday reported 613 coronavirus patients were in Iowa hospitals, up from 582 on Tuesday of this week. Of those patients, 119 were in intensive care, four more than Tuesday.

The number admitted to hospitals in the past 24 hours stood at 97 on Thursday, a significant increase from the 69 reported on Tuesday.

There are currently 88 Iowa nursing homes with active COVID-19 outbreaks. Those outbreaks involve a total 3,448 residents and staff.

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.