Iowa’s COVID-19 cases rise, but are far below November peak

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Iowa’s tally of new COVID-19 cases continues to rise, but still is one-tenth of the peak in November, a New York Times database shows. 

The state reported nearly 5,500 new cases on Nov. 13 during a stretch when hospitalizations also peaked. The state reported 735 new cases on Thursday, with a seven-day average of 521, the Times reported. 

That daily average over the past week is up 21% from two weeks ago, the Times reported. Hospitalizations were up 11%. The state logged six deaths on Thursday, 16% fewer than two weeks ago. 

The state logged 7,195 tests Thursday, up 1% over the past 14 days.

The Times reported 20% of Iowans are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, with 31% having at least one dose. 

Since February, Polk County, the most-populous of Iowa’s 99 counties, has moved from an “extremely high” exposure risk to the current “very high” category, the second-highest.

The county logged 116 new cases Thursday, down 2% from two weeks ago. But Polk County hospitalizations are up 74%. Test positivity is running 8%, “suggesting that cases may be undercounted,” the Times reported.

Gov. Kim Reynolds this week stayed with the plan to make all Iowans eligible for vaccinations beginning Monday. Demand is expected to far outstrip supply in coming days, and many urban Iowans are traveling to rural areas to get their shots.

The Washington Post’s database ranks Iowa 22nd in new daily cases per capita, based on a seven-day rolling average. Midwestern neighbors South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois and Minnesota all had more cases per capita. 

Iowa’s statewide test positivity rate of 6% tied for eighth in the country over the past week, the Post reported.

The World Health Organization recommends limits on normal activities until positivity rates are consistently below 5% for at least two weeks. However, Reynolds on Feb. 7 lifted the state’s limited mask mandate and restrictions on businesses and other public gathering places. 

Since the pandemic began, 380,738 Iowans have tested positive for COVID-19, and 5,751 have died, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported.