116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Over 800 people are being treated in Iowa hospitals for COVID-19, a surge setting yet another record for the year as Iowans head into the holiday season.
As of Wednesday, 823 Iowans were hospitalized, marking the first time since Dec. 12, 2020, that coronavirus hospitalizations were at or above 800, according to the latest data released Wednesday by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
This week’s new total climbed from last week’s 777, continuing the weekslong trend of increasing hospitalizations as infections spike.
Wednesday’s weekly coronavirus report from the state showed COVID-19 patients in intensive care dipped to 173, a decrease from the 185 patients reported last week. Total available ICU beds in the state had dropped to a new low this past week, reaching just 136 open beds on Dec. 9.
Patients on ventilators increased this week from 98 to 103, the highest seen since Dec. 10, 2020.
Those between the ages of 18 and 29 continue to represent the largest share of new hospital admissions over the past week at 6 percent, the same as the week before. Iowans aged 17 and younger represented 4 percent of new admissions, an increase from 2 percent last week.
Among the 19 children who are hospitalized because of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, all but one was unvaccinated.
According to state public health officials, those not fully vaccinated account for 82.7 percent of COVID-19 patients in intensive care, about the same as 84.3 percent last week.
Among all patients hospitalized in the state because of COVID-19, those not fully vaccinated account for 77.8 percent. That’s an increase from the 73.8 percent reported last week.
The state reported 10,476 new cases of COVID-19 in the past week as the state experiences the latest surge as Iowans gather for holidays.
Last week, 13,039 new cases were reported by the state public health department.
While hospitalizations are increasing, new infection rates this week have decreased, according to state data. Iowa’s average positivity rate over the past seven days was 10.8 percent, a decline from 12.3 percent a week ago.
Nonetheless, all 99 counties in Iowa are still at the maximum “red zone” level of community transmission, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among the positive tests statewide over this past week, those in the 18-29 age group made up the largest share at 19 percent. The percentage of new cases by age group in the past week was:
- 17 and younger: 17 percent
- 18 to 29: 19 percent
- 30 to 39: 18 percent
- 40 to 49: 14 percent
- 50 to 59: 14 percent
- 60 to 69: 11 percent
- 70 to 79: 5 percent
- 80 and over: 3 percent
Linn County reported 955 new infections, compared with 1,034 last week. The average seven-day positivity rate this week was 13.6 percent in the county.
Johnson County reported 388 new cases, compared with 476 last week. The county’s average positivity rate was 8.8 percent.
As the coronavirus spreads rapidly across Iowa, officials have been working to meet the influx of test volumes in recent weeks through Test Iowa, the state’s free COVID-19 testing program.
Using self-administered testing kits, Iowans can collect their own saliva and send the sample directly to the State Hygienic Lab for testing. Once the kit is received by the lab, results are emailed to Iowans within 24 hours.
In order to meet the demand, testing at the lab starts about 6 a.m. and runs through 10 p.m. “or later, depending on the samples received,” said Public Health Department spokeswoman Sarah Ekstrand.
“The staff frequently stay to midnight to get out as many results as possible,” she said.
The lab also has hired additional staff in anticipation of greater demand for testing throughout the winter months.
Testing kits can be send directly to participants’ home upon request, or pickup a kit at a designated location.
This fall, state public health officials opened seven Test Iowa pickup sites that provide same-day delivery to the State Hygienic lab in an effort to expedite test processing. The lab adjusted schedules to accommodate the arrival of samples by couriers, Ekstrand said. Test Iowa pickup and drop-off sites with same-day delivery in the Corridor are:
- Linn County Public Health: 1020 Sixth St. SE in Cedar Rapids
- Johnson County Public Health: 855 S. Dubuque St. in Iowa City
Other COVID-19 test locations in Iowa can be found at coronavirus.iowa.gov.
Also Wednesday, state public health officials confirmed 130 new deaths as a result of the novel coronavirus. The previous week, 105 deaths were confirmed.
The COVID-19 death toll in Iowa since the first one in March 2020 is 7,680.
Of the past two week’s confirmed deaths, 63 took place in December, 158 in November, 13 in October and one in August.
The confirmed death toll over the past two weeks by age groups:
- 18 to 40: 12
- 41 to 60: 34
- 61 to 80: 115
- 80 and older: 74
Linn and Johnson counties each reported three deaths.
In the past week, another 22,313 Iowans became fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. That brings the number of fully vaccinated Iowans to 1,740,086, or 58.80 percent of Iowans aged 5 and older and 55.15 percent of all Iowans.
In addition, 79,377 booster shots have been administered to fully vaccinated individuals in Iowa over the past seven days, an increase from the 4,486 boosters distributed the week before.
As of Wednesday, a total of 698,836 booster shots have been administered in Iowa since August.
As of Wednesday, 16 long-term care facilities in Iowa were reporting a coronavirus outbreak — three or more COVID-19 cases among staff and residents. Last week, 17 facilities reported outbreaks.
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John McGlothlen of The Gazette contributed to this report.