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The number of COVID-related hospitalizations in Iowa increased almost 30 percent in the past week, going from 139 patients to 180 this week, federal officials reported Wednesday.
It is the highest number reported since March 2, when 202 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The totals, however, still remain far below the 991 patients hospitalized the week of Jan. 19 at the height of the omicron surge.
The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care also increased in the past week, reaching 21 as of Wednesday. That’s the highest count since March 9, when 25 patients were in intensive care.
This week’s total compares to the 13 patients in intensive care last week and the 19 patients the week before.
Seven weeks ago, only two COVID-19 patients were in intensive care in Iowa hospitals, an all-time low during the pandemic.
New COVID-19 cases totaled 3,854 as of Wednesday, a slight decline from the 3,960 new cases reported last week, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Coronavirus activity has been increasing in Iowa over the past several weeks as the highly contagious omicron subvariant, BA.2, has become the dominant coronavirus strain in the Midwest and the rest of the country.
By comparison, six weeks ago, the state reported 1,063 new cases in a seven-day period.
In total, Iowa has reported 780,019 cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began two years ago.
For the sixth week in a row, Johnson County has the highest seven-day positivity rate in the state, reaching 331 positive tests per 100,000 residents as of Wednesday. However, that is a decline from last week, when the county had a positivity rate of 396 positive tests per 100,000 population.
Johnson County reported 424 new cases in the past week, a decrease from the 484 new cases reported last week and the 633 cases the week before. In total, the county has had 37,082 coronavirus cases since March 2020.
Linn County reported 353 new COVID-19 cases in the past seven days. That’s also a drop from the 367 new cases reported last week and the 399 the week before. In total, Linn County has reported 54,244 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
As of May 30, most Iowa counties have "high" COVID-19 community transmission levels, including Johnson and Linn and all their contiguous counties, except for Delaware County, which has “substantial” transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dozens more Iowa counties have “substantial” and “moderate” transmission levels. Only one county — Osceola in northwest Iowa — was classified as having “low” COVID-19 community transmission.
On Wednesday, the state public health department confirmed another 15 deaths in Iowa in the past week as a result of the coronavirus. Last week, the state confirmed 16 COVID-19 deaths.
In total, 9,603 Iowans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Johnson County reported one coronavirus fatality in the past week, bringing its COVID-19 death toll to 154.
Linn County reported no COVID-19 deaths in the past seven days. To date, 587 residents have died from the coronavirus.
Polk County continues to have the highest COVID-19 death toll statewide, with 1,108 fatalities reported as of Wednesday.
As of May 3 — the latest data available from the state public health department, which updates vaccination totals the first Tuesday of the month — the number of fully vaccinated Iowans and non-Iowans now totals 1,922,920, or 62.2 percent of the population.
In addition, the total number of fully vaccinated and boosted individuals in Iowa was 1,034,082 as of last month.
As of Wednesday, 73 percent of the total population in Johnson County and 77.5 percent of those aged 5 and older were fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
Linn County reported 67 percent of the total county population and 71.5 percent of residents aged 5 and older were fully vaccinated as of this week, per the CDC.
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John McGlothlen of The Gazette contributed to this report.