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Though the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to drop statewide, the number of long-term care facilities reporting coronavirus outbreaks remains in the triple digits this week.
This latest numbers released Wednesday come as Gov. Kim Reynolds ends the public health disaster proclamation she first put into effect in March 2020.
“We need to move on,” Reynolds told reporters at the Iowa State Capitol on Wednesday. “I think Iowans know what they need to do. They’ve demonstrated that, so it’s time to move on and treat this like we do other viruses.”
The shift, she said in the announcement this past week, moves the state from an emergency pandemic response to managing the coronavirus “as part of normal daily business.”
The emergency proclamation, signed by the Republican governor on March 17, 2020, shifted state resources and staff to respond to the public health emergency and provide support to local health entities on the front lines of the pandemic.
The proclamation will expire at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.
State officials will continue to encourage Iowans to stay home when sick, Reynolds said, but added the state saw “a significant decline” in coronavirus-related hospitalizations in recent weeks.
Reynolds said state officials are seeing an increase in patients admitted to hospitals for reasons besides COVID-19.
“At the height of our hospitalizations in November 2020, for 75 percent of hospitalizations, the primary reason was COVID-19,” she said. “Today, the number of hospitalizations primarily because of COVID-19 are under 50 percent.”
Reynolds said Wednesday the state public health department will continue to monitor COVID-19 but will treat the coronavirus like it does with other viruses, such as influenza.
Statistics used to measure the pandemic’s impact — including new cases, positivity rates and deaths — still will be available on an Iowa Department of Public Health website, according to Interim Director Kelly Garcia.
The state will no longer report COVID-19 hospitalizations and the number of long-term care facilities with outbreaks. That data will be available from federal officials, Garcia said last week.
Should Iowa see another uptick in virus activity, Reynolds said the state will evaluate and decide on mitigation steps at that point.
Long-term care outbreaks
This week, 114 long-term care facilities were reporting coronavirus outbreaks — three or more cases among patients and staff — a slight increase from the 109 reported last week, according to weekly totals released Wednesday by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
It’s the highest number of facilities with outbreaks since Dec. 29, 2020.
This week’s total — roughly a quarter of Iowa’s 445 nursing homes — is also four times greater than the 25 facilities reporting outbreaks four weeks ago.
Iowa reported 12,833 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, with a seven-day positivity rate of 13.3 percent.
That’s down more than 40 percent from last week’s total of 22,730 new cases. The positivity rate last week was 18.5 percent.
In total, 735,422 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Iowa since the virus arrived in Iowa in March 2020.
But even as new cases continue to fall statewide, all 99 counties in Iowa remain at the maximum rate of community transmission of the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Linn County reported 910 new infections this week, compared to 1,725 the previous week. The seven-day positivity rate was 13.9 percent, down from 21.2 percent last week. Since March 2020, Linn County has reported 50,343 cases of the coronavirus.
This week, Johnson County reported 735 new cases, with a seven-day positivity of 17 percent. Last week, the county reported 1,449 new cases with a positivity rate of 23.2 percent. Since March 2020, Johnson County has reported 32,830 cases.
The number of patients hospitalized this past week with COVID-19 dropped to 617, compared to the 794 reported last week.
The number of patients in intensive care totaled 96, down from 109 the week before.
The number of patients on ventilators dropped to 42, compared to 51 the previous week.
Of those hospitalized this past week, 55.2 percent were not fully vaccinated, compared to 54.1 percent last week. Of those in intensive care, 65.6 percent were not fully vaccinated.
Six weeks ago, the percentage of patients hospitalized who were not fully vaccinated was 80.6 percent.
Twenty-four children were hospitalized with COVID-19 this past week, down from the 18 reported last week and the 35 reported the week before that. Among this week’s pediatric patients, six were fully vaccinated.
Those aged 17 and younger represented 7 percent of new hospital admissions this week, an increase from the 5 percent last week. Those in the 18 to 29 age group represent 6 percent of the admissions, compared to last week’s 5 percent.
Iowa officials on Wednesday confirmed 172 new deaths as a result of COVID-19 in the past week, an increase from the 156 reported by the state public health department last week.
Among this week’s confirmed death toll, the age groups were:
- 18 to 40 — 4
- 41 to 60 — 29
- 61 to 80 — 76
- 80 and older — 63
The statewide coronavirus death toll since March 2020 now stands at 8,829.
Linn County reported another 14 deaths this week, bringing the countywide death toll to 538.
Johnson County reported six deaths this week, bringing the county’s death toll to 132.
Polk County, the state’s most populous county, reported 23 deaths this past week, bringing its death toll to 1,000 since the pandemic began..
Another 6,930 Iowans became fully vaccinated in the past week, for a total of 1,810,465 Iowans. That’s 57.38 percent of the state’s total population and 61.18 percent of those aged 5 and older.
An additional 13,063 residents received a booster dose, bringing the total number of boosted individuals to 969,524.
In Linn County, another 510 individuals completed their vaccine series. That brings the total number of immunized residents to 145,627, or 64.24 percent of the county’s total population and 68.5 percent of those aged 5 and older.
Johnson County reported another 307 residents became fully vaccinated in the past week, for a total of 103,805 fully immunized residents. That’s 68.68 percent of the county’s total population and 72.88 percent of those aged 5 and older.
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Erin Murphy and John McGlothlen of The Gazette contributed to this report.