COVID-19 activity lulls before Thanksgiving

Travis Fischer

The slowdown of the spread of COVID-19 continued as Iowa went into the Thanksgiving holiday.

With recent news of potential vaccines on the way, Governor Kim Reynolds spoke last week on the state’s plan to distribute vaccines to essential workers once available.

“If approved for emergency use, vaccines will be fast tracked for distribution nationwide, which could mean vaccines could begin just weeks from now,” said Reynolds on Tuesday, November 24. “Whenever the decisions regarding approval are made and distribution begins, Iowa is ready.”

As of Sunday, Nov. 29, there have been 228,691 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, increasing the 211,657 total from the week prior by 17,034 cases. This is a significant drop in the number of new cases over the last seven days.

“While these numbers are not where we need them to be, they are lower than where they were the week prior,” said Reynolds.

In total, approximately 11,435 elderly adults (age 80+); 38,877 older adults (60-79); 64,033 middle aged adults (40-59); 93,763 young adults (18-39); and 22,869 children have tested positive for the disease. These estimates are based on a percentage-based breakdown of the state’s reported positive cases. As the total number of cases increase, the less accurate these estimates will become. A single percentage point difference can change an estimate by more than 2,200 cases.

With 131,097 cases considered recovered, that leaves roughly 95,218 Iowans currently known to be fighting the disease. While this is still an increase of 2,059 from the week prior, the rate of growth has reduced substantially.

The number of hospitalizations is also on the decline this week. With 1,162 hospitalized patients as of Sunday, including 224 in an ICU, the number of hospitalizations is slowly, but steadily falling from its peak on Nov. 17.

The state is now reporting a total of 3,500 inpatient beds available, of which 58% are in use.

COVID-19 testing continues to roll on, though several testing sites were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. In total, 1,210,454 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, including 1,071,858 PCR tests and 138,562 antigen tests. An aver 4,687 PCR tests per day were counted over the last week along with a total of 10,289 new antigen tests. Though, without the number of repeat tests on individuals, it’s unknown exactly how many tests the state has performed.

Current testing shows that roughly 54% of positive cases result in symptoms while 7% have been asymptomatic, with the remaining cases pending or unknown.

In addition, 75,603 Iowans have undergone serology testing for coronavirus antibodies, which would indicate that they have had the virus. Of that number, 4,844, about 6%, have tested positive for antibodies.

The number of coronavirus related deaths has also dropped slightly, with 197 deaths reported this week bringing the total death count to 2,399.

In total, approximately 1,261 elderly (52.56%), 945 older adults (39.39%), 162 middle aged adults (6.75%), 30 young adults (1.25%), and at least one child (.04%) have died from the virus since the pandemic began.

Of the new deaths, 59 have been attributed to outbreaks in long term care facilities, bringing the number of deaths in these facilities to 1,063.

Another 33 long term care facilities reported an outbreak this week, bringing the total to 155 outbreaks consisting of 4,938 positive individuals with 2,051 recovered.

Though many of the metrics are going in the right direction, it’s yet to be seen how the Thanksgiving holiday will affect the spread of the virus. Reynolds noted that most models are projecting another spike in activity in the wake of increased travel and family get-togethers.

“The impending vaccine brings with it the hope that life will return to normal soon, however it will take some time for the vaccine to become widely available,” said Reynolds. “In the meantime, we be patient and continue to do everything we can to prevent getting and spreading of the virus.”



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