Fall, winter COVID surge had one-third of state deaths

By: - March 16, 2022 12:20 pm

COVID-19 cell graphic. (Image via National Foundation for Infectious Diseases)

More than 3,000 people infected by the coronavirus have died in Iowa since last fall, when cases began to rise and were capped by the omicron variant’s peak in January. That total accounts for about a third of the state’s deaths, which happened after vaccines were widely available.

It’s unclear when the full count of deaths for that period of time will be finalized because death reports are often delayed for weeks.

In an update on Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 87 new deaths, a weekly number that is declining and is still several times higher than the death rate during last summer’s lull in new confirmed cases. A total of 9,349 deaths have been confirmed since the start of the pandemic.

There were an average of about 144 new cases reported in the state each day in the past week, according to state data. That’s the lowest infection rate since last summer’s lull. During the worst of the omicron surge, more than 5,000 new cases were being reported each day on average.

Still, there were four Iowa counties with high community transmission rates in the past week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They included Chickasaw, Greene, Howard and Winneshiek. The CDC recommends people wear masks indoors in public places when there is high community transmission. It updates its ratings on Thursdays.

There were 121 infected people receiving inpatient treatment at Iowa hospitals on Wednesday, a decline of about 21% in the past week, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of the hospitalized, 17 were receiving intensive care.

About 65% of Iowans who are eligible for vaccines — those ages 5 and older — are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. About 72% of adults are fully vaccinated, as are about 92% of those 65 years and older.

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Jared Strong
Jared Strong

Senior reporter Jared Strong has written about Iowans and the important issues that affect them for more than 15 years, previously for the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register.