Infections continue to drop in Iowa, but vaccination rate is still 54%

By: - October 4, 2021 3:42 pm

A new Iowa law has complicated hospital vaccine mandates. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Newly reported cases of COVID-19 have fallen 13% in Iowa over the past week.

The drop in cases continues a decline that began last week in the wake of a surge of new cases. According to the Washington Post’s COVID-19 tracker, the average number of new cases reported each day in Iowa is down 13.3% over one week ago, and the number of COVID-related hospitalizations is down 3.9%.

Over the past two weeks, the daily average of new cases has dropped 24%, according to the New York Times.

Since December of last year, more than 3,474,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in Iowa, although only 1.7 million Iowans – about 54% of the state’s population – are fully vaccinated.

Nationally, about 56% of the population is fully vaccinated – but the difference among states varies greatly. Eastern seaboard states have vaccination rates in the range of 64% to 70%, but many southern and western states are below 50%.

Iowa continues to have a higher than average rate of infection when compared to other states. Over the past several weeks, only 13 other states have maintained a higher per capita infection rate than Iowa, according to the Washington Post.

The newspaper’s COVID-19 tracker indicates Iowa is currently averaging 45 new cases each day for every 100,000 residents. That’s down from the 55 new cases per day that was reported on Sept. 22, but it’s still worse than the national average of 32.

Alaska has the nation’s highest daily average, at 118 new cases per 100,000 residents, while Connecticut has the lowest daily average at just 13 new cases per 100,000 residents.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported Monday 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 declined to say Monday where the current nursing home outbreaks are, or how many residents are affected, stating that it is not required by law to create records that don’t already exist. The agency said that going forward it will disclose that information on a weekly basis.

As of Monday, there were 629 Iowans hospitalized with the virus, which marks a significant decrease from the 682 reported on Sept. 22, which was the highest number of hospitalizations since December of last year.

Iowans who are not vaccinated account for 76% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state, and 88% of all intensive care patients with the virus.

Despite that, the number of Iowans vaccinated against COVID-19 has crept up only gradually in recent months, at a rate of less than 1 percentage point per month. A recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll found that federal initiatives to require vaccinations are unpopular among most Iowans, particularly among Republicans.

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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.