Pandemic’s grip on Iowa eases, but vaccination rate slows

COVID-19 vaccinations are slowing down in Iowa. (Photo by Getty Images/Javier Zayas Photography)

The coronavirus’ grip on Iowa loosened across the board the past two weeks, but the state’s vaccinations continue to slow.

The number of new daily cases averaged 96 in the past week, down 49% in two weeks, the New York Times reported. Deaths were down 41% and hospitalizations fell 9%. The number of tests fell 32%.

Many Iowans who have been vaccinated have returned, mask-free, to bars, restaurants, grocery stores and events, bolstered by new federal recommendations loosening restrictions.

The number of vaccinations in Iowa has dropped by about one-third in each of the past two weeks, the Washington Post reported. The percentage of Iowans who are fully vaccinated stands at 44.6%, a gain of less than one percentage point in a week. Just under half of Iowans, 49.8%, have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

A month ago, 36% of Iowans were fully vaccinated.

Though state officials are pushing for more people to get vaccinated, key statistics continue to improve.

Sixteen of Iowa’s 99 counties have reported no recent cases of COVID-19. Only three counties were averaging the equivalent of more than a dozen cases per 100,000 people, the Times reported. The others were far below that.

Polk County, home to the state capital of Des Moines, has seen the risk drop from high levels to moderate, the second-lowest level, the Times reported. “Vaccinated people are at minimal risk” in the county, the newspaper added.

Since the pandemic began, Iowa has recorded 402,542 cases and 6,073 deaths related to the coronavirus, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported. 

GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds, who spent part of last week fending off criticism from the state auditor, a potential Democratic election opponent, about spending on a public information campaign, has said she isn’t interested in state-sponsored incentives to encourage people to get their vaccinations. She has welcomed efforts by sports teams, farmers markets and other events offering incentives on their own. 

Democratic Congresswoman Cindy Axne, in Des Moines on Monday, said she’d like to see Iowa do more to lure the reluctant to vaccination sites.

“We’ve got to be doing exciting, fun, innovative practices,” Axne said. “Other states are doing them.”

Perry Beeman
Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.