Iowa sees an upswing in COVID-19 infections and deaths

    This is a new image of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the disease that flared in Wuhan, China, in late December and has killed nearly 2,000 people. (Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Lab)

    Iowa saw a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths late this week.

    The 487 new infections reported for Thursday represents the highest daily number of new cases in Iowa in three weeks. The eight new deaths reported for Thursday marks the highest daily total since June 15 and 16, when there were nine deaths reported each of those days.

    Although it’s too early to determine whether the increase in deaths and infections are an aberration or the beginning of an upward trend, the increases come in the wake of widespread reopening of businesses and activities throughout Iowa. In other states, that action has been followed by a significant increase in infections.

    On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the number of new COVID-19 infections reported nationally set a new record, with Friday’s total topping 40,000. Some of the increase is attributed to expanded testing, but deaths and hospitalizations are also on the rise, particularly in West and the South.

    Beginning in mid-May, Iowa saw four continuous weeks of declining numbers of new cases — a trend that ended two weeks ago.

    By some measures, the average number of new infections has since been on the rise, with state officials reporting a daily average of 347 new infections this past week, which would be the highest weekly average since mid-May.

    Johns Hopkins University’s graph of Iowa’s cumulative cases continues to show a steady upswing in the overall number of cases. 

    Since the pandemic began, more than 27,000 Iowans have tested positive for the coronavirus. As of 5 p.m. Friday, 704 Iowans had died of COVID-19.

    Buena Vista County, where Tyson Foods had a major outbreak, is still the state’s COVID-19 hot spot, with 8,282 cases per 100,000 residents.

    That’s more than double the infection rate of the three Iowa counties with the next highest rates of infection — Crawford, Louisa and Woodbury counties, each of which has more than 3,000 cases per 100,000 residents.

    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.