COVID-19 activity on the rise in Iowa

Travis Fischer

COVID-19 activity continues to spike in Iowa, driven by an increase in spread across the rural Northwestern part of the state.

The spread, particularly among the older population, has resulted in a rise in cases that result in hospitalization. The upward climb of hospitalizations continued for a third week, as 438 Iowans were hospitalized as of Sunday with the virus with 100 in an ICU.

“Hospitals across the region are experiencing a rise in admissions,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday, October 7. “Yesterday we reached an all-time high of 444 Iowans hospitalized across the state. This is disappointing news, and sadly this is what can happen when we are experiencing community spread.”

The bulk of the hospital admissions of the last two weeks have been older and elderly individuals struggling with the virus, emphasizing the danger it poses to the more vulnerable demographic.

“Even though positive cases are more evenly distributed across age groups in many areas where virus activity is high, it’s the vulnerable population that remains most impacted,” said Reynolds.

Deaths to COVID-19 are also on the climb as 79 Iowans died last week, bringing the total death count of the disease in Iowa to 1,460.

In total, approximately 715 elderly (49%), 584 older adults (40%), 131 middle aged adults (9%), 29 young adults (2%), and one child (.1%) have died from the virus since the pandemic began.

Of the new deaths, 30 have been attributed to outbreaks in long term care facilities, bringing the total number of deaths in long term care facilities to 739.

The number of long term care facilities reporting outbreaks increased again this week by two, with 54 now reporting outbreaks consisting of 1,169 positive individuals with 627 considered recovered.

Two weeks ago, Iowa Department of Public Health relaxed guidelines on visiting long term care facilities, allowing for indoor and outdoor visitation and communal activities among residents, though still warning that counties with a 10% positivity rate should limit indoor visits to only the most necessary of circumstances.

“One of the most heart wrenching consequences of COVID is the isolation and separation it’s created between the elderly and their families and neighbors,” said Reynolds. “The wall that we built to keep COVID-19 away from our most vulnerable seniors also kept out the loved ones that provide them with the day-to-day support that they need and the person-to-person interaction that means so much to them.”

As of Sunday, October 11, there have been 99,687 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, increasing the 92,599 total from the week prior by 7,088 cases, a significant increase from the previous week.

In total, approximately 3,897 elderly adults (age 80+); 13,956 older adults (61-80); 26,915 middle aged adults (41-60); 46,853 young adults (18-40); and 8,972 children have tested positive for the disease. These estimates are based on a percentage-based breakdown of the state’s reported positive cases.

With 76,258 cases considered recovered, that leaves roughly 21,969 Iowans currently known to be fighting the disease, an increase of 2,350 from the previous week.

862,305 individuals have been tested since the start of the pandemic, including 821,075 PCR tests and 41,230 by antigen tests. An average of 4,800 PCR tests per day were counted over the last week along with a total of 6,417 new antigen tests.

Current testing shows that roughly 61% of positive cases result in symptoms while 12% have been asymptomatic, with the remaining cases pending or unknown.

In addition, 62,364 Iowans have undergone serology testing for coronavirus antibodies, which would indicate that they have had the virus. Of that number, 3,594, about 6%, have tested positive for antibodies.

Three new test clinic sites are scheduled to open this week in Buena Vista, Wapello, and Winneshiek counties. This increases the number of TestIowa locations to seven sites and 21 clinics across the state.

With the increase availability of tests and the length of time Iowa has been in the midst of the pandemic, Reynolds says that while more than 800,000 individuals have been tested, the state has actually processed more than 1.3 million tests as Iowans take tests multiple times.

“As regular testing among individuals becomes the norm, reporting the total number of tests, instead of individuals tested, may become a more useful indicator of virus activity and more in line with how we monitor other respiratory viruses like the flu,” said Reynolds.

The state will be looking into adjusting the ways they report testing statistics this week.



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