Iowa’s COVID-19 cases continue to drop, but risk areas remain

COVID-19 vaccine is stored at -80 degrees celsius in the pharmacy at Roseland Community Hospital on Dec. 18, 2020, in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Iowa continues to gain ground in the fight against COVID-19, as the U.S. as a whole also sees steep drops in cases. 

The Washington Post reported Iowa ranked No. 27 in cases per capita on Monday with 13 cases per 100,000. Minnesota was higher, ranking fourth with 30 cases per 100,000. The U.S. reported 17.

The New York Times reported Iowa was averaging 406 new COVID-19 cases per day as of Monday, down 16% in the past two weeks. Hospitalizations were down 4%.

Among other Midwestern states, South Dakota saw a 35% drop in cases. Also seeing declines were Illinois (-19%), North Dakota (-8%), Nebraska (-7%) and Minnesota (-28%). Missouri’s new cases were up 1%, the Times reported.

The Times reported that 32% of Iowans were fully vaccinated for the coronavirus, and 43% had received at least one dose. Nationally, 29% were fully vaccinated, and 42% had received at least one dose. 

Two weeks ago, Iowa had fully vaccinated 25% of its population and 38% had received at least one dose.

There have been signs of declining demand for vaccinations in Iowa with plenty of appointments available after weeks that saw residents scramble to find doses. Eighty counties have declined state vaccine allotments for the week of May 3, nearly double the previous week’s total, according to the state public health department.

In the past three weeks, the number of counties declining the state’s vaccine allotments grew to 20, then 43, and now 80.

“Iowa, along with several other states, is seeing a decrease in vaccine demand, but we are working with our local partners and community leaders to determine where additional education is needed and to gain an understanding of the needs of each county’s unique population,” said Sarah Ekstrand, spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Health. “We are hopeful that lifting the pause of the (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine will also contribute to more vaccines being administered in the state, especially among individuals who prefer the convenience of a single dose.”

Ekstrand added: “We want to vaccinate as many Iowans as possible while doing everything we can to avoid vaccines sitting on shelves.”

Since the pandemic began, Iowan has recorded 392,911 cases of COVID-19, and 5,927 have died of the illness, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported.

The U.S. has recorded 32.2 million cases and 572,237 deaths. The nation is averaging 55,058 new cases a day, down 20% in two weeks, the Times reported.

The Times’ rankings of risk lists Dickinson County, home of the Iowa Great Lakes vacation area, as having “extremely high risk.” Osceola, Wright, Harrison and Pottawattamie counties also were in the category. 

Counties with “very high” risk included Polk, Dubuque, Clinton, Woodbury, Johnson, and Cerro Gordo counties, among others.