Iowa lags on vaccinations as the number of new COVID-19 cases climbs

By: - July 19, 2021 4:27 pm
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The average daily number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Iowa is up 50% from two weeks ago, and up almost 67% from one week ago. (Image by Fusion Medical Animation via Unsplash)

The average daily number of newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in Iowa is up 50% from two weeks ago, and up almost 67% from one week ago, according to the latest data from the New York Times and Washington Post.

As of Sunday, Iowa’s seven-day average of confirmed new cases each day was 128, the Times reported. In early July, that number was as low as 13, although the relatively small number of cases now cropping up means that an increase of only a few dozen cases per day translates to a big percentage increase.

The Washington Post’s COVID-19 tracker indicates that new, daily reported cases are up 66.7% from one week ago, while COVID-related hospitalizations have increased 4.6% over last week.

In Polk County, the average daily number of newly confirmed cases is up 53% from two weeks ago, with the county now averaging 16 new cases per day, according to the Times. Hospitalizations in the county now average 16, which represents a 61% increase from two weeks ago.

Statewide, there are an estimated 185 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, which is equal to the number recorded in mid-March and represents a significant increase from the 102 hospitalizations recorded on June 21.

Since mid-May, deaths reported each day in Iowa due to COVID-19 have averaged between one and four.

Among the Iowa counties with the biggest per capita case counts:

  • Webster County: 28 cases per 100,000 residents. Now averaging 10 new cases per day. Percentage increase in new cases over two weeks ago: 106%.
  • Calhoun County: 27 cases per 100,000 residents. Now averaging three new cases per day. Percentage increase in new cases over two weeks ago: 260%.
  • Hancock County: 16 cases per 100,000 residents. Now averaging two new cases per day. Percentage increase in new cases over two weeks ago: 300%.
  • Adams County: 16 cases per 100,000 residents. Now averaging fewer than one new case per day. Percentage increase in new cases over two weeks ago: 100%.
  • Franklin County: 14 cases per 100,000 residents. Now averaging one new case per day. Percentage increase in new cases over two weeks ago: 100%.

As would be expected, the counties with the highest daily average of new cases are, generally, those with the biggest population:

  • Black Hawk County: Daily average of new cases is 16, which reflects a 23% increase from two weeks ago.
  • Polk County: Daily average of new cases is 16, which reflects a 53% increase from two weeks ago.
  • Webster County: Daily average of new cases is 10, which reflects a 106% increase from two weeks ago.
  • Linn County: Daily average of new cases is six, which reflects a 22% increase from two weeks ago.
  • Des Moines County: Daily average of new cases is five, which reflects a 125% increase from two weeks ago.
  • Scott County: Daily average of new cases is five, which reflects a 71% increase from two weeks ago.
  • Pottawattamie County: Daily average of new cases is three, which reflects a 71% increase from two weeks ago.

When it comes to vaccinations, the counties with the highest percentage of population fully vaccinated are largely in eastern Iowa, while counties near the southern and western borders of the state have the state’s lowest vaccination rates.

The five Iowa counties with the highest vaccination rates are Johnson (60%), Linn (54%), Dubuque (53%), Boone (52%) and Polk (52%). The counties with the lowest vaccination rates are Davis (29%), with Decatur, Lyon, Van Buren, Wayne and Sioux counties all tied at 33%.

When it comes to vaccine acceptance, Iowa is lagging behind many other states and U.S. territories, ranking 29th in the percentage of adults who have received at least one vaccination shot. The national average of adults who have received at least one shot is 68.3%. Iowa stands at 64.7%.

Polk County offers free food, fair tickets for those receiving vaccines

Polk County officials announced Monday that free, state-fair-style food will be given away Tuesday to any county resident receiving their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition to the free food, those who receive their vaccine will also be given two free tickets to the 2021 Iowa State Fair.

Interested residents age 12 and older can go to the Polk County Health Department offices at 1907 Carpenter Ave., Des Moines,  between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday. They can choose two food items among options that include corn dogs, tenderloins, french fries and funnel cakes, and receive their fair tickets.

The New York Times says it recently analyzed vaccine records and voter records in every county in the United States and found that individuals’ willingness to receive a vaccine, as well as actual vaccination rates, were lower on average in counties where most residents voted to re-elect former President Donald J. Trump in November 2020.

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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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