Iowa’s COVID infections are increasing at an accelerated rate

By: - December 7, 2022 1:46 pm

A model of COVID-19, known as coronavirus, is seen ahead of testimony from Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), during a US Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the plan to research, manufacture and distribute a coronavirus vaccine, known as Operation Warp Speed, July 2, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

The number of new, documented COVID-19 infections was at least 28% higher in the past week in Iowa than it was the week prior, according to state data published Wednesday.

The state reported 3,469 new, weekly confirmed cases among people who were not previously infected by the coronavirus. That’s more than double the state’s reported infection rate nearly two months ago.

The total number of infections documented by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services — including new infections among people who had already been infected earlier in the pandemic — might have been as high as 4,584 in the past week, according to state testing data. Those positive tests increased 33% from the week prior.

The previous weekly rate increase was 17%.

The state does not report reinfections to federal health officials, which results in a limited account of virus activity in the state. The state also does not record the results of widely available at-home, rapid tests.

The state’s documented COVID-19 infection rate is lower than it was in September and about a third of what it was a year ago, which was shortly before confirmed cases skyrocketed in early January.

Federal health officials have predicted there will not be a similar surge in cases this winter. The last surge — which resulted in the state’s highest infection rates of the pandemic at more than 5,000 per day — happened when the omicron variant emerged.

The number of infected people who are receiving inpatient treatment at Iowa hospitals also increased from a week ago but not at a rate that kept pace with new documented infections. On Wednesday, there were 255 people hospitalized, an increase of 9% from last week, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of those, 17 were under intensive care.

The state also reported on Wednesday 24 new deaths associated with the virus, for a total of 10,316 since the start of the pandemic.

More than a quarter of Iowa’s counties have a medium threat level from the virus, based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s analysis of infection and hospitalization rates. Those counties are primarily located in east-central, north-central, southwest and northwest parts of the state. The Des Moines metro area has a low threat.

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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.