New COVID-19 cases on the rise

Travis Fischer

New cases of COVID-19 are spiking up in Iowa after a few weeks on the decline.

As of Sunday, July 5, there have been 31,353 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, increasing the 28,489 total from the week prior by 2,864 cases. This continues from last week’s up-tick, with an increase of 300 more new cases from the week before.

In total, an estimated 1,254 elderly adults (age 80+), 3,762 older adults (61-80); 9,719 middle age adults (41-60); 15,049 young adults (18-40); and 1,566 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 310 cases.

Current testing shows that roughly 63% of positive cases result in symptoms while 13% have been asymptomatic, with the remaining cases pending or unknown.

After a few weeks on the decline, the number of severe cases of COVID-19 is also increasing, with 141 people currently hospitalized and 43 patients in an ICU.

Regarding the number of Iowans currently battling the virus, last week Governor Reynolds announced a change in how the state would be reporting recovered COVID-19 cases. Previously, the state’s case investigators had been trying to contact all positive testing Iowans to confirm recovery. Moving forward, the state will now consider Iowans testing positive to be recovered after 28 days unless informed otherwise.

“80% of people with COVID-19 experience a mild illness and are able to fully recover at home, many without medical attention. Yet under our current process we only had confirmed that 62% of Iowans that had COVID-19 had been recovered,” said Governor Reynolds. “We believe this change more accurately reflects the number of Iowans recovered and will allow our case investigation team to have more time to assist Iowans who are newly diagnosed.”

Out of 31,353 Iowans testing positive, 24,739 are counted as recovered and 721 have died, leaving roughly 5,800 currently infected.

On the positive side of things, with only 16 new deaths reported last week, the death rate for the virus continues to drop. Approximately 339 elderly, 296 older adults, 72 middle aged adults, and 14 young adults have died from the virus since the pandemic began.

Likewise, the number of outbreaks in long term care facilities has also declined, with the state now reporting only 20 current facilities managing outbreaks, bringing the number of positive cases down to 554.

In total, 382 deaths have been reported from long term care facilities. This is up 18 deaths from the previous week. Though the increase in the total number of deaths from long term care facilities surpasses the increase in total deaths state wide, it should be noted that the reporting of these numbers is not always in sync, and past numbers are often retroactively updated as paperwork is processed.

In terms of testing, Iowa crossed a benchmark last week. With 333,010 Iowans tested, more than 10% of the population has been tested since the start of the pandemic. With an average of 5,239 tests per day over the last week, testing rates are steadily staying above the state’s 5,000 per day goal.

Test Iowa in particular also reached a benchmark of their own, surpassing 3,000 tests a day every day for a week.

“We hit a new all time daily high with 3,956 people tested through our Test Iowa sites,” said Reynolds. “We’re fast approaching a total of 80,000 Iowans who have been tested through Test Iowa.”

Test Iowa is currently supporting eight test sites and 11 clinics, with a new clinic opening in Council Bluffs last week.

33,833 Iowans have also undergone serology testing for coronavirus antibodies, which would indicate that they have had the virus. Of that number, 2,360, about 7%, have tested positive for antibodies.

While cases are trending back up, the governor does not anticipate re-implementing the business closures, as other states have recently done in recent weeks. Instead, she is trusting that Iowa businesses owners will take action on their own in communities that are being hit the hardest by the virus.

“We are able to provide a lot of information for businesses and Iowans, and they can take that information and make decisions about how they move forward,” said Reynolds at the June 30 press conference. “We’re not seeing things happening like in Florida and Texas and Arizona. I’m seeing my positivity rate go down. I’m seeing my hospitalizations go down.”

Reynolds noted that more than half of the new positive cases since June 14 have occurred in just ten counties in Iowa, and that she’s seen businesses voluntarily close or otherwise take precautions to help stem the spread.

“Business owners are making difficult but responsible decisions to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of Iowans, and I commend them for their actions,” said Reynolds. “This is what the situation calls for. COVID-19, as you know, is not over. It’s still in our communities.”



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