CORONAVIRUS

Iowa records one-day high for positive coronavirus cases

Medical assistant Alex Abodeely holds a swab taken from a patient for a coronavirus test as she places it in a container
Medical assistant Alex Abodeely holds a swab taken from a patient for a coronavirus test as she places it in a container toe be transported for analysis at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Family Medicine Clinic in Iowa City on Monday, April 20, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported a new one-day high for positive COVID-19 tests — 648, bringing the total number of positive cases to 5,092.

The department also reported five deaths — one each in Johnson, Black Hawk and Scott counties and two in Polk. That brings the statewide death toll since the first coronavirus-related death was reported March 8 to 112.

Although state public health officials said in past weeks they saw signs the curve has been flattening, indicating a slowing of new COVID-19 cases, Iowa’s positive test numbers have continued to rise through the past week.

There were 389 new positive cases Sunday, April 19, and 482 Tuesday. After 107 and 176 new cases this past Wednesday and Thursday, the reported number shot up to a one-day high of 521 Friday.

Much of the increase has been attributed to more testing, particularly at meatpacking facilities.

Ten counties saw double-digit increases in Department of Public Health numbers of positive cases between Friday and Saturday. They were:

• Black Hawk, with 161 more cases than the day before

• Woodbury, 127

• Polk, 85

• Marshall, 74

• Linn, 39

• Dallas, 31

• Muscatine and Tama, 25 each

• Poweshiek, 11

• Scott, 10.

Black Hawk County, with 691 cases, has more cases than any other county. It was followed by Polk with 660, Linn with 548 and Johnson with 418. Those four counties account for nearly 46 percent of all cases.

The Department of Public Health also reported Saturday there have been an additional 1,730 negative tests, for a total of 29,258 negative tests to date. That includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab in Coralville and other labs.

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The number of positive cases will continue to grow as Test Iowa sites open and additional surveillance testing of large businesses and nursing home staff continues, according to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office.

The Test Iowa Initiative is a program the state has entered into to begin widespread testing of Iowans. Since its launch, more than 121,000 Iowans completed an online assessment.

If indicated, people then were scheduled for further testing at a drive-through site in Des Moines beginning Saturday. Appointments for drive-through testing this weekend are filled.

More testing sites are planned and, once at full capacity, up to 3,000 Iowans can be tested each day in addition to the testing already being done, the governor said.

Also on Saturday, the Iowa Veterans Home reported at least three positive test there among residents. Eleven staff members have tested positive, according to the commandant.

No visitors are allowed except in end-of-life situations.

In Linn County, an employee in the facilities department of the Linn County Correctional Center has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The employee is now self-isolating, and the county Public Health Department is tracing the employee’s contact with co-workers.

The staff member would not have had contact with the inmates housed in the jail, the sheriff’s statement said.

The deaths reported Saturday were:

• Black Hawk, an adult 41 to 60 years old

• Johnson County, an adult 61 to 80

• Polk, an adult 61 to 80 and another 81 or older

Scott, one adult 81 or older.

A previously identified Clinton County death has been determined to be of an Illinois resident.

Public Health also reported 293 people currently are hospitalized with COVID-19 and 1,723 Iowans have recovered. At this time, one in 91 Iowans have been tested.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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