COVID cases rise again in Iowa; hospitalizations fall

By: - June 8, 2022 3:55 pm

Iowa's true coronavirus infection rate has been clouded by at-home testing. (Image courtesy of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Lab)

New confirmed coronavirus cases in Iowa jumped 11% in the past week, which snapped a two-week streak of stagnating infection rates, according to new Iowa Department of Public Health data released Wednesday.

There were 4,283 new COVID-19 cases in the past week reported to the state, or about 612 per day. That’s a new high since the most-recent lull in late March, when there were about 68 per day.

The state’s infection rate is still substantially lower than January’s peak, but the state of the virus has been clouded by the wide availability of free at-home test kits.

“At-home test results for COVID-19 are not reported to the department,” said Sarah Ekstrand, a spokesperson for IDPH. “The best thing that Iowans can do to prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death from the COVID-19 virus is to get vaccinated and stay up to date with booster doses.”

She declined to speculate about how significant the undercount of infections might be.

Despite the rise in cases last week, hospitalizations declined. There were 167 people infected by the virus receiving inpatient treatment at Iowa hospitals on Wednesday, a 7% decrease from the previous week. The number of those who were under intensive care — 21 — was unchanged from last week.

The state also reported 12 new deaths among people who had been infected. It’s unclear when those deaths occurred.

Only one Iowa county, Johnson, in orange, has an infection rate designated as “high” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC graphic)

The threat of the virus in Iowa right now is greatest in eastern counties, especially Johnson, which carries the only “high” designation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC ranks counties as low, medium and high based on their rates of infection and hospitalization. When counties have a high threat level, the CDC recommends people wear face masks at indoor public places.

The counties that have a medium threat designation include: Audubon, Benton, Cedar, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Emmet, Howard, Iowa, Jackson, Jones, Linn, Louisa, Lucas, Washington, Wayne and Winneshiek.

Nationally, new COVID-19 cases have plateaued, according to the New York Times, but the country’s infection rate is about seven times higher than it was a year ago.

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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. His investigative work exposing police misconduct has notched several state and national awards. He is a longtime trustee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, which fights for open records and open government. He is a lifelong Iowan and has lived mostly in rural western parts of the state.