COVID spike continues in Iowa

Travis Fischer

The increase in COVID-19 spread continues in Iowa, as the state sets national records for new cases.

“Iowa had the highest rate of increase in COVID-19 cases nationally last week, and the fifth highest positivity rate in the country,” said Governor Kim Reynolds at a press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 2.

Reynolds continues to attribute the spike in cases primarily to young people, particularly in college towns as school starts back up. Though younger people may face less risk from the virus, the uncontrolled spread among the population inevitably reaches more susceptible demographics.

“A continued rise in cases among any age group can result in an increase in community spread, putting our most vulnerable at higher risk,” said Reynolds. “It can also impact our essential workforce, keeping healthcare professionals, law enforcement officers, and teachers away from work during a time when they have a critical role to play.”

In response to the increase in cases, Reynolds has ordered the closure of bars in six of the most heavily impacted Iowa counties and is monitoring the situation to see if more closures may be necessary.

To help mitigate the financial impact, Reynolds has re-opened the small business relief program for bars that have been impacted by the closure.

“Those businesses ordered to close under the last proclamation may be eligible for a $10,000 grant to assist with short term cash flow,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds also noted that closing the bars was a last resort after trying to get bar owners to comply with mandated social distancing regulations failed.

“We had restrictions. They didn’t abide by that. We put enforcement behind it. We gave them a warning. We did a fine,” said Reynolds. “I don’t like doing that. I am trying to balance the health and safety of Iowans with the livelihoods of these small businesses.”

Shortly after explaining how young people are not abiding by social distancing guidelines and the risk that the resulting increase in community spread brings to the state, Reynolds expressed her approval of Iowa State University’s plan to open Jack Trice Stadium to 25,000 people for the first game of the season.

“We can do these things safely and responsibly. We can open our schools back up. We can open our colleges back up. We can continue to move forward, but we have to have personal responsibility,” said Reynolds. “If you don’t think it’s safe, don’t go.”

Iowa State University reversed their decision later that day, announcing that the stadium would remain closed to spectators and that they would re-evaluate their plans in October.

As of Sunday, September 6, there have been 70,035 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, increasing the 64,274 total from the week prior by 5,761 cases, a slight decrease in the previous week, which had been inflated by the introduction of antigen test results to the statewide total.

In total, approximately 2,801 elderly adults (age 80+); 8,404 older adults (61-80); 18,909 middle aged adults (41-60); 35,018 young adults (18-40); and 4,902 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 700 cases.

With 49,740 cases considered recovered, that leaves roughly 19,129 Iowans currently known to be fighting the disease, an increase of nearly 3,000 from the previous week.

668,539 individuals have been tested since the start of the pandemic, including 654,458 PCR tests and 14,081 antigen tests. An average of 5,000 PCR tests per day were counted over the last week along with a total of 2,155 antigen tests. Current testing shows that roughly 60% of positive cases result in symptoms while 13% have been asymptomatic, with the remaining cases pending or unknown.

In addition, 51,413 Iowans have undergone serology testing for coronavirus antibodies, which would indicate that they have had the virus. Of that number, 3,121, about 6%, have tested positive for antibodies.

The number of hospitalized Iowans increased again last week to 309, with 91 patients in an ICU, a modest increase from the week prior.

At the same time, deaths attributed to COVID-19 saw a modest decrease, with 55 new deaths reported bringing the total to 1,166.

Of the deaths reported this week, 29 have been attributed to outbreaks in long term care facilities, bringing the total deaths in long term care facilities to 627. In Iowa, the number of facilities reporting outbreaks has decreased by eight, with 29 now reporting outbreaks and 804 testing positive with 367 considered recovered.

In total, approximately 560 elderly (48%), 478 older adults (41%), 105 middle aged adults (9%), 23 young adults (2%), and one child (.1%) have died from the virus since the pandemic began.



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