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Johnson County sees highest 7-day COVID positivity rate in Iowa
New cases, hospitalizations increase statewide from last week
New COVID-19 cases and virus-related hospitalizations continued their upward momentum this week in Iowa.
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 1,716 new coronavirus infections in the past seven days. That’s an increase from the 1,063 new cases reported last week. That also compares to the 478 cases reported four weeks ago.
Johnson County had the highest seven-day positivity rate in the state in the past week — 247 positive tests per 100,000 residents.
The county reported 305 new cases this week — the highest seven-day total since the 449 cases reported Feb. 16.
Last week, Johnson County reported 174 new infections and 145 the week before.
To date, 34,672 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Johnson County since March 2020.
Linn County reported 215 new cases this week, also a significant uptick from the 129 cases reported last week and the 103 new cases reported the week before.
In total, 52,517 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the county since March 2020.
Statewide, new case totals, though up, remain far below the height of the omicron surge, when 38,500 new cases were reported for the week of Jan. 19.
New variant not as bad
COVID-19 cases have increased across Iowa in recent weeks as a result of a new strain of the coronavirus that has arrived in force across the United States.
Called BA. 2, it’s a new subvariant of omicron that has a short incubation period and a high rate of transmission, according to Dr. Dan Diekema, epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
Fortunately, he said, the rate of increase in the community is not as steep as it was during the omicron surge, which peaked in mid-January.
“We are seeing an increase, but it’s not exponential. It’s of concern but not at the same rate that we saw with (omicron),” Diekema told The Gazette last week.
In the region that includes Iowa, the omicron subvariant accounts for 68 percent of the COVID-19 cases as of April 23, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Just four weeks ago, BA. 2 made up just 34 percent of all cases in the Midwest.
As of April 21, all 99 counties in Iowa were still rated in the “low” category for COVID-19 transmission levels. Last week, three counties in west-central Iowa — Calhoun, Carroll and Sac counties — had reached the “medium” category.
Under federal guidelines, people living in areas rated as medium or low no longer need to wear masks indoors or in public spaces.
Iowa saw an uptick in coronavirus-related hospitalizations in the past week, with 84 individuals hospitalized as of Wednesday, according to federal health data.
By comparison, 63 patients were hospitalized with the virus the previous week and 68 the week before.
Again, those totals are much lower than the 991 patients hospitalized the week of Jan. 19 at the height of the omicron surge.
COVID-19 patients in intensive care also increased this week, reaching six patients statewide as of Wednesday. Last week, the state had reached an all-time low of two intensive care patients with the virus.
The state public health department confirmed 19 deaths as a result of COVID-19 in Iowa in the past week. That compares to the 31 deaths reported last week and the 21 reported the week before.
With this week’s addition, 9,529 Iowans have died from the coronavirus since March 2020.
Two deaths were confirmed in Johnson County in the past week. Last week, the county reported zero deaths. Since March 2020, 152 people have died of COVID-19.
Linn County confirmed one death in the past week, bringing the countywide death toll since March 2020 to 581.
With an additional 2,926 individuals completing a vaccine series in the past seven days, the number of fully vaccinated Iowans and non-Iowans is 1,920,600 as of Wednesday.
That’s 61.9 percent of the state’s total population and 66 percent of Iowans aged 5 and older, according to the CDC.
The total number of fully vaccinated and boosted individuals reached 1,030,565 as of Wednesday after an additional 4,467 individuals received their booster shot in the past week.
In Linn County, 66.7 percent of the total county population and 71.2 percent of residents aged 5 and older were fully vaccinated as of this week, per the CDC.
Johnson County reported 72.6 percent of the total county population and 77.1 percent of those aged 5 and older were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to the CDC. The county is the only one in Iowa that has topped the 70 percent threshhold.
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John McGlothlen of The Gazette contributed to this report.