Iowa reclaims its title as the state with the lowest rate of COVID-19 testing

By: - January 25, 2021 3:37 pm

A medical worker holds a swab used to test for COVID-19. (Photo by Mladen Sladojevic/Getty Images)

The Washington Post reported Monday that Iowa has reclaimed its status as the state with the lowest rate of testing in the nation.

On a per capita basis, Iowa currently ranks last in testing among the 50 states, administering 586 tests for every 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to the Post’s database. Only Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa have a lower rate of testing.

When the states are ranked by the raw number of tests given, Iowa ranks third from the bottom, behind South Dakota and Idaho.

The number of tests that are administered can affect the number of new infections that are reported. In Iowa, the number of tests administered each day has fallen from an average of 7,375 on Nov. 14 of last year, to 2,624 on Monday, according to data from the New York Times.

Iowa reported only one coronavirus death and 515 new infections on Monday, continuing a trend that sees significantly lower numbers reported at the beginning of each week. The previous Monday, for example, Iowa reported one death, but as the week progressed, the number of deaths reported each day was significantly higher, in the range of four or five dozen.

Iowa’s weekend counts, which are reflected in the numbers that are reported each Monday, are lower because fewer sources of information are reporting their data to the state.

Last week, 221 deaths were reported in Iowa, according to the Washington Post’s COVID-19 database. That translated to a 68.4% increase in the number of newly reported deaths over the previous one-week period. On Monday, the number of deaths in Iowa over the previous week dropped to 164, which represents a 12% decrease in deaths as compared to last week.

Over the past week, there has been an average of 1,141 new infections per day, which represents a decrease of 33% from the average two weeks ago, according to the New York Times’ COVID-19 tracker.

As of Monday afternoon, Iowa had recorded at least 313,485 infections and 4,487 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Since Dec. 14, an estimated 191,183 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Iowa, and approximately 1% of the state’s total population has completed their vaccination. Currently, there are only 11 other states with a lower rate of vaccination than Iowa.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the number of active outbreaks in Iowa nursing homes is remaining relatively flat, but the number of infections associated with those outbreaks is increasing. On Friday, the state agency reported 70 active outbreaks in Iowa nursing homes, with 1,884 infections of staff and residents. On Monday, the number of active outbreaks dropped to 69 but the number of infections increased 21% to 2,285.

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Clark Kauffman
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.

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