CORONAVIRUS

Iowa's still-high coronavirus spread budges a bit

Hospitalizations and weekly new case average inch down

Medical staff check documents Thursday at the Test Iowa site, 5755 Willow Creek Dr. SW in Cedar Rapids. The site provide
Medical staff check documents Thursday at the Test Iowa site, 5755 Willow Creek Dr. SW in Cedar Rapids. The site provides protection from winter weather for medical staff and testing subjects. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Iowa’s skyrocketing spread of COVID-19 showed signs again Sunday of inching down from record levels, though measures remain high and public health officials continue to call for caution this holiday.

The state reported that 3,403 new cases were added in the 24-hour period ending at 11 a.m. Sunday, bringing the state’s total so far to 210,062.

That new daily number helped continue to bring down the state’s weekly average of new cases for the seventh day in a row, though that average remains far higher than it has been for the majority of the time the pandemic has been confirmed in Iowa.

Linn County added 220 of the cases in the period, and its weekly average of new cases declined for the eighth day in row.

Johnson County added 92 cases, bringing its weekly average down for the seventh straight day.

Still, the daily positivity rates in both counties remained at alarming levels — 41.51 percent in Linn and 25.92 percent in Johnson. Statewide, the daily positivity rate was 39.15 percent.

The number of people being treated in Iowa hospitals for the disease inched down also in the 24-hour period. Current hospitalizations dropped from 1,416 to 1,340 patients. Those in intensive care declined from 273 to 255, and those placed on ventilators decreased from 137 to 132.

In the 24-hour period, Iowa reported 33 COVID-19 deaths: Six in Scott; three each in Cerro Gordo and Polk; two each in Keokuk and Linn; and one each in Black Hawk, Cass, Des Moines, Dubuque, Harrison, Humboldt, Ida, Page, Palo Alto, Pottawattamie, Shelby, Sioux, Tama, Warren, Washington, Winneshiek and Woodbury counties.

The additions bring Iowa’s total COVID-19 deaths so far to 2,192.

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Public health officials are worried that Iowa’s recent coronavirus spike will worsen, and drive hospitalizations up, if families hold gatherings or travel over the Thanksgiving holiday.

High positivity rates and staff absences have driven students out of classrooms at several Eastern Iowa school districts as the systems have switched to temporary online-only instruction. Districts are hoping that the recent rampant spread of the disease will come under control so students can get back to in-person classes.

“We desperately want to have our kids re-enter our schools after Thanksgiving,” Cedar Rapids Community School District Superintendent Noreen Bush wrote earlier this month to parents. “For that to happen, we need to see the trend of positive COVID-19 cases decline and the health care system needs to be stabilized and less taxed. Please, take the safety measures when you are with others outside of your immediate household so we can stabilize our community and bring our kids back to school.”

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