New coronavirus cases plunge as state scales back reporting
The state will stop using a dedicated COVID-19 website next week to report information about the coronavirus. (Screenshot of the COVID-19 in Iowa site)
The number of new daily coronavirus infections in Iowa is precipitously declining, according to the final expected major update to the state’s COVID-19 tracking site.
Tests have confirmed that an average of more than 1,600 Iowans have been infected per day in the past week. The rate is higher than most other points of the pandemic but down significantly from the peak of about 5,000 cases per day in January.
The state reported 172 new deaths among those who were infected. Reports of deaths are often delayed for weeks after they occur, and those that were reported Wednesday happened between Oct. 21 and Feb. 2.
The number of infected people who are receiving inpatient treatment at Iowa hospitals is also declining and totaled 617, down from 648 the day before and from a recent peak of about 1,000 in January.
Gov. Kim Reynolds said last week that she plans to end a longstanding public health disaster proclamation on Feb. 15 and will shut down two state websites that allow residents to track important details about the virus’ spread and find vaccine providers.
“We need to treat it like we do other viruses, so the Department of Public Health will continue to monitor like they always have, like they do with the flu this time of year,” Reynolds told reporters Wednesday.
The department is expected to provide weekly updates about positive tests and deaths on its website but will cease its reports of hospitalizations and outbreaks at long-term care facilities.
Reynolds justified the shuttering of the COVID-19 tracking site because of a diminished number of visitors to it. She said the total number of website visits since April 2021 is down about 86% compared to the number of visits between March 2020 and March 2021.
But that comparison appears to involve different lengths of time, and the state scaled back its site updates from daily to three times each week, with a more comprehensive update on Wednesdays. The state’s data show that an average of more than 7,000 people visit the site each day.
“People are not going there,” Reynolds said. “They’re not utilizing it.”
— Reporter Katie Akin contributed to this article.
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