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The novel coronavirus continues to wind down in Iowa — for now.
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 720 new COVID-19 cases statewide in the past seven days, down from the previous week’s 1,008 new cases, according to new coronavirus data released Wednesday.
As of March 17, the COVID-19 transmission level for 97 Iowa counties — including Linn and Johnson — were in the “low” category, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Appanoose and Davis counties in southern Iowa were rated in the “medium” transmission category.
Under federal guidelines, people living in areas rated as medium or low no longer need to wear masks indoors or in public spaces.
However, U.S. health officials say the nation likely will see an uptick in COVID-19 cases caused by a new omicron variant that’s causing cases to increase in parts of Europe and Asia, the Associated Press reported this week.
The subvariant, BA.2, accounts for about 35 percent of new coronavirus infections reported in the nation in the past week and more than 50 percent of the new cases in some parts of the country, the CDC reported Tuesday. In the region that includes Iowa, the new variant made up 19 percent of infections.
The omicron variant remains the dominant coronavirus variant, CDC data shows.
In the past week, 67 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, down from the previous week’s 112.
COVID-19 patients in intensive care totaled 11 in the past seven days — an all-time low, according to federal data. Last week, 15 patients were in intensive care.
That compares to the seven-day peak of 991 hospitalizations reported Jan. 19.
Jan. 19 also marks the high-point in the number of new cases reported in Iowa in a one-week period — 38,574 — during the omicron surge.
Linn County reported 82 new cases in the past week, down from the 125 reported the previous week.
Johnson County added 37 new cases this week, compared to the 78 cases reported the previous week.
The state public health department confirmed 53 new deaths as a result of COVID-19 in the past seven days, bringing the coronavirus death toll to 9,402 in the past two years. Last week, 87 deaths were reported for the seven-day period.
Linn County reported four deaths, compared to the six deaths the week before. In total, the virus has claimed the lives of 577 county residents.
Johnson County reported four deaths this week, compared to five reported last week. The county’s COVID-19 death toll now stands at 149.
With an additional 2,578 individuals completing their vaccine series, state data shows 1,906,971 Iowans and non-residents in Iowa are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Wednesday.
That accounts for 61.4 percent of the state’s total population and 65.5 percent of Iowans aged 5 and older, per the CDC.
As of Wednesday, 4,472 Iowans had received a COVID-19 booster shot, bringing the total number of fully vaccinated and boosted individuals to 1,009,416.
Johnson County continues to have some of the highest rates of vaccinations statewide. As of Wednesday, 72.1 percent of the county’s total population and 76.5 percent of those aged 5 and older are fully vaccinated.
In Linn County, 66.3 percent of the total county population and 70.7 percent of residents aged 5 and older as fully vaccinated as of this week.
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John McGlothlen of The Gazette contributed to this report.