Iowa’s COVID-19 cases decline in the wake of a September surge

By: - September 29, 2021 3:28 pm

Iowa is preparing for the rollout of a pediatric Pfizer vaccine. (Photo by Getty Images)

Iowa’s COVID-19 cases have declined from a mid-September peak, but infections and hospitalizations remain significantly higher than earlier this year.

COVID-19 infections reached the highest level of 2021 last week, with an average of 1,811 news cases per day. Iowa had one of the highest per-capita rates in the U.S., with an average of 55 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.

But data on Wednesday suggested that Iowa might be turning a corner. The New York Times reported that Iowa has seen a 25% decrease in cases over the last two weeks, with a new daily average of 1,114 cases per day. 

Hospitalizations, however, are up 11% over the last two weeks according to the Times.  State data shows there are 624 Iowans currently in the hospital, including 157 patients in the ICU. There are 13 children currently hospitalized with COVID-19. But that may also be on the decline: last week there were 638 Iowans in the hospital, 14 more than this week.

There are also fewer long-term care outbreaks than last week. Iowa Department of Public Health data shows that there were 25 nursing home outbreaks as of Tuesday, compared to 29 last Friday.

Even so, Iowa is certainly not in the clear. This was the third consecutive week that Iowa recorded more than 10,000 cases, according to the Des Moines Register, something that hasn’t happened since 2020. Case numbers remain significantly elevated from this summer. In late June, the state was reporting fewer than 100 cases per day.

The current number of daily cases matches the number of infections the state saw in late January, when less than 2% of the state’s population was fully vaccinated. 

As of Wednesday, 54% of Iowans are fully vaccinated, according to the Times.

A September Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll found that a quarter of Iowa adults do not intend to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Rural Iowans were the least likely to get the shots, with just 51% responding that they have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Reporter Katie Akin began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.