Nursing home infections up 17% in Iowa as outbreaks spread

By: - October 7, 2021 3:13 pm

Drawing of coronavirus cells. (Image via National Foundation for Infectious Diseases)

At least 333 residents and workers in Iowa nursing homes have been infected with COVID-19 as a result of current, ongoing outbreaks in 32 different care facilities.

That’s a 17% increase in long-term care infections over the past two weeks. As recently as Aug. 1, there was only one Iowa nursing home with an active COVID-19 outbreak.

Federal data shows the total number of Iowa nursing home residents infected during the 2020-21 pandemic increased by 274 in the past two weeks, an average of almost 18 newly infected residents per day.

A total of 2,459 Iowa nursing home residents have died, and federal data indicates 25 of those deaths were recorded in just the last two weeks.

According to the federal government, 34% of the workers in Iowa nursing homes remain unvaccinated – the same percentage reported two weeks ago.

Statewide, 11,949 nursing home residents have been infected with COVID-19 during the pandemic, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That number is equal to 60% of all nursing home residents in the state, according to the federal agency.

One of the biggest outbreaks is at the state-run Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown, where an outbreak that began Aug. 20 has so far resulted in 37 infections, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Eleven of those infections have been recorded in the past two weeks.

This is the sixth outbreak at the Iowa Veterans Home, which is the highest number of outbreaks at any care facility in the state. The five previous outbreaks at IVH resulted in 146 infections.

According to CMS, six residents of the veterans home have died of COVID-19, and 72% of the IVH staff have been vaccinated, a 1 percentage-point increase over the past two weeks.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has opposed requiring workers in either state-run or private care facilities to be vaccinated.

On Aug. 18, the Biden administration issued a vaccine mandate for workers at all of the nation’s 15,000 nursing homes that collect Medicare or Medicaid funding. The administration has said it intends to cut off that funding for any home that fails to comply.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said an average of 60% of nursing home personnel in the United States had yet to be vaccinated, a rate they said leaves the care facilities at higher risk for outbreaks among residents and staff.

In response to a formal Open Records Law records request, the Iowa Department of Public Health earlier this week disclosed that these 32 care facilities in Iowa are dealing with a current, active outbreak of COVID-19.

Adams County – Corning Specialty Care: The Iowa Department of Public Health has not said when this outbreak began, but it was at some point during the past two weeks. There have been 14 infections to date associated with this outbreak.

Black Hawk County – Friendship Village Retirement Center: Outbreak began Sept. 13, with five infections to date. A previous outbreak at the facility in the spring of 2020 resulted in 47 infections.

Bremer County – Denver Sunset Home: Outbreak began Sept. 10, with five infections to date. A previous outbreak at the facility last fall resulted in 15 infections.

Cherokee County – Careage Hills Rehab and Healthcare: The Iowa Department of Public Health has not said when this outbreak began, but it was at some point during the past two weeks. There have been 10 infections to date associated with this outbreak.

Clay County – Longhouse-Northshire Ltd.: Outbreak began Aug. 24, with 17 infections to date.

Dallas County – Granger Nursing and Rehab Center: The Iowa Department of Public Health has not said when this outbreak began, but it was at some point during the past two weeks. There have been five infections to date associated with this outbreak.

Des Moines County – Azria Health-Prairie Ridge: The Iowa Department of Public Health has not said when this outbreak began, but it was at some point during the past two weeks. There have been 20 infections to date associated with this outbreak.

Dickinson County – Pearl Valley Rehab and Nursing at Lake Park: Outbreak began Sept. 8, with 16 infections to date.

Hardin County – Scenic Manor: Outbreak began Sept. 7, with seven infections to date. Two previous outbreaks resulted in a total of 13 infections.

Howard County – Colonial Manor of Elma: The Iowa Department of Public Health has not said when this outbreak began, but it was at some point during the past two weeks. There have been five infections to date associated with this outbreak.

Iowa County – English Valley Nursing Care Center: Outbreak began Aug. 31, with 23 infections to date.

Jasper County – Newton Health Care Center: Outbreak began Aug. 17, with three infections to date. A previous outbreak at the facility last summer resulted in 61 infections.

Johnson County – Briarwood Healthcare Center: Outbreak began Sept. 8, with six infections to date. A previous outbreak at the facility last winter resulted in 33 infections.

Lee County – Donnellson Health Center: The Iowa Department of Public Health has not said when this outbreak began, but says that to date there have been five infections associated with it. (Two weeks ago, the agency said this facility had an active outbreak that resulted in eight infections.) A previous outbreak at the facility last winter resulted in 14 infections.

Lee County — Mississippi Valley Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center: Outbreak began Sept. 8, with 42 infections to date, which is an increase of 34 infections over the past two weeks. This is the biggest current long-term care outbreak in Iowa.

Linn County – Cottage Grove Place: Outbreak began Sept. 8, with 10 infections to date. Two previous outbreaks resulted in a total of 11 infections.

Linn County – Hiawatha Care Center: The Iowa Department of Public Health has not said when this outbreak began, but it was at some point during the past two weeks. There have been eight infections to date associated with this outbreak.

Linn County – Living Center West: Outbreak began Aug. 30, with 18 infections to date. A previous outbreak at the facility in the spring of 2020 resulted in 61 infections.

Linn County – The Rehabilitation Center of Lisbon: The Iowa Department of Public Health has not said when this outbreak began, but it was at some point during the past two weeks. There have been 17 infections to date associated with this outbreak.

Mahaska County – Crystal Heights Care Center: Outbreak began Aug. 20, with 14 infections to date. A previous outbreak at the facility last summer resulted in 75 infections.

Marshall County – Grandview Heights: Outbreak began Sept. 12, with six infections to date. A previous outbreak at the facility last summer resulted in 79 infections.

Marshall County – Iowa Veterans Home: Outbreak began Aug. 20, with 37 infections to date. This is the sixth outbreak at the state-run home. Previous outbreaks have resulted in 146 infections.

Mills County – On With Life at Glenwood: Outbreak began Sept. 6, with 10 infections to date.

Osceola County – Sibley Specialty Care: The Iowa Department of Public Health has not said when this outbreak began, but it was at some point during the past two weeks. There have been four infections to date associated with this outbreak.

Page County – Accura Healthcare of Shenandoah: Outbreak began Aug. 24, with 11 infections to date.

Palo Alto County – Palo Alto County Hospital Nursing Facility: Outbreak began Sept. 10, with six infections to date.

Polk County – Altoona Nursing & Rehab Center: The Iowa Department of Public Health has not said when this outbreak began, but it was at some point during the past two weeks. There have been three infections to date associated with this outbreak.

Polk County – Sunny View Care Center: Outbreak began Aug. 23, with nine infections to date. A previous outbreak at the facility last winter resulted in seven infections.

Polk County – Trinity Center at Luther Park: The Iowa Department of Public Health has not said when this outbreak began, but it was at some point during the past two weeks. There have been three infections to date associated with this outbreak.

Pottawattamie  County – Bethany Lutheran Home: Outbreak began Aug. 30, with 21 infections to date. A previous outbreak at the facility last winter resulted in 86 infections.

Scott County – Iowa Masonic Home: Outbreak began Sept. 13, with six infections to date. Two previous outbreaks at the home resulted in 37 infections.

Tama County – Sunrise Hill Care Center: : The Iowa Department of Public Health has not said when this outbreak began, but it was at some point during the past two weeks. There have been four infections to date associated with this outbreak.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

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.

MORE FROM AUTHOR