Iowa’s COVID infections and hospitalizations reach their highest level since 2020

By: - September 22, 2021 4:46 pm

(Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Lab)

COVID-19 continues to spread in Iowa, with the average number of new infections and hospitalizations reaching their highest level of any time in 2021.

Only 13 other states have a higher per capita infection rate, according to the Washington Post. The newspaper’s COVID-19 tracker indicates Iowa is averaging 55 new cases each day for every 100,000 residents. Alaska has the nation’s highest daily average, at 117 new cases per 100,000 residents, while Connecticut has the lowest daily average at just 19 new cases per 100,000 residents.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported Wednesday that there are 29 Iowa nursing homes in which there is a current, active outbreak involving three or more staff and/or residents. The agency’s web site no longer identifies the nursing homes where outbreaks are active, and no longer provides a count of the infections in each facility. IDPH officials did not respond to a written request for that information on Tuesday.

Setting aside the per capita calculations of infections, Iowa’s statewide daily average of newly reported COVID-19 cases was 1,811 on Tuesday, according to New York Times data. That number represents an average of the total number of new cases reported each day in Iowa during the last week.

Tuesday’s average was down slightly from Sunday, in part because the state periodically reports zero new cases one day, with more than 1,000 new cases reported the next day.

At the height of a surge in January, Iowa was averaging 1,754 cases per day. The last time the daily average surpassed 1,800 was in December 2020.

As of Tuesday, there were 682 Iowans hospitalized with the virus, according to the Times. That represents the highest number of hospitalizations since Dec. 22, 2020.

In the past week in Iowa, the number of new, daily reported cases rose 3.8%, and the number of newly reported deaths each day rose 33%, according to the Post.

With the COVID vaccines resulting in fewer deaths and hospitalizations, the number of Iowans hospitalized with the virus has been growing, but at a much slower rate than infections. Over the past 14 days, hospitalizations due to the virus have increased 6%, according to the Times.

Of all the COVID-19 patients in Iowa hospitals, 78% are unvaccinated. In the intensive care unit, 90% of all COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

Despite that, the number of Iowans vaccinated against COVID-19 has remained stalled around 53%, roughly the same percentage as one month ago. A recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll found that federal initiatives to require vaccinations are unpopular among most Iowans, particularly among Republicans.

The Iowa counties with the highest rate of infections are Washington County at 122 cases per 100,000 residents; Pocahontas County, with 106 cases; and Hardin County, with 103 cases.

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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.