COVID-19 spreads in Iowa, with almost 2,200 new cases added in one day

By: - August 23, 2021 1:09 pm

COVID-19 cells (Photo via

The spread of COVID-19 is continuing to ramp up in Iowa, with almost 2,200 new cases recorded on Saturday.

Not surprisingly, the county with the lowest vaccination rate in Iowa is also the county with the highest number of new infections over the past week, when adjusted for population.

According to the New York Times, the number of new infections reported Saturday was 2,197, a sharp increase from last week’s single-day high of 1,992. Saturday’s total was Iowa’s highest single-day tally in seven months, since 2,478 new cases were recorded on Jan. 6.

Throughout August, the trend line for new infections in Iowa has been climbing sharply, mirroring a trajectory last seen in early November 2020. The current trend line shows no signs yet of leveling off.

Even more telling: The seven-day average of new cases, which tends to be a more reliable measure of trends than single-day tallies, is also on a sharp upward trajectory. On July 9, the seven-day average was 39 new cases per day; today, the average is 20 times higher, at 814 new cases per day.

Adjusted for population, only 13 other states currently have a higher number of infections than Iowa, which presently has 12,525 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the Washington Post.

Iowa’s seven-day average of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is also climbing, and stands at 491, a 54% increase over the past two weeks, according to the New York Times’ data. Hospitalizations in the state are at the same level now as they were in late January.

The counties that saw the biggest gains in hospitalization, when measured against their overall population, were Lucas, Madison, Polk, Ringgold and Warren counties.

Infections soar in some Iowa counties

Despite the current rapid rate of increased infections, the raw number of newly infected Iowans remains far less than last November, when Iowa sometimes topped 4,000 new cases per day.

The total number of current COVID-19 cases at Iowa stands at 849, a 42% increase over the past two weeks.

The hot spots in Iowa, along with number of cases per 100,000 residents recorded in the last seven days, are:

Davis County: 54 cases per 100,000 residents, up 162% in the last 14 days. (Davis County also has the lowest percentage of vaccinated residents of any county in Iowa, at 31%.)

Lee County: 52 cases per 100,000 residents, down 31% in the last 14 days.

Ringgold County: 50 cases per 100,000 residents, up 325% in the last 14 days.

Crawford County: 48 cases per 100,000 residents, up 50% in the last 14 days.

Two-thirds of some counties’ residents still unvaccinated

Statewide, 51% of Iowans are fully vaccinated, which places Iowa close to the national average. There are 23 states with a higher percentage of fully vaccinated residents.

The Iowa counties that have the lowest percentage of fully vaccinated residents are: Davis County, at 31%; Decatur County, Van Buren and Lyon counties, each at 34%; and Sioux and Wayne counties, at 35%.

The Iowa counties with the highest percentage of fully vaccinated residents are Johnson County, at 62%; Linn and Dubuque counties, at 55%; and Polk, Boone and Dallas counties, at 54%.

In the past few weeks, some major national employers, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Google, the Mayo Clinic and the military have begun requiring vaccinations. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has also advised all public and private nursing homes nationwide that if they expect to continue to be funded by Medicare and Medicaid, all of their workers must be vaccinated.

Earlier this year, Iowa state lawmakers banned local mask mandates. President Joe Biden has pushed back on that measure and similar actions in Iowa and seven other states. The U.S. Department of Education sent Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds a letter last week voicing opposition to the state’s restriction on local mandates, but Reynolds has held firm in her support of the measure.

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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.