CORONAVIRUS

Iowa surpasses 100,000 cases of COVID-19

Des Moines mayor alarmed over upcoming Trump rally

A doctor checks a medical ventilator control panel while wearing protective clothing. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
A doctor checks a medical ventilator control panel while wearing protective clothing. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Iowa reached a grim milestone Monday, surpassing 100,000 cases of COVID-19 since the infection was first confirmed March 8 in the state.

Since the first of this month, Iowa has added more than 10,000 positive cases and White House coronavirus experts have warned officials that the state continues to see more than twice the rate of infections as the national average.

The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in Iowa has risen over the past two weeks, from 16.39 percent on Sept. 27 to 18.44 percent on Oct. 11, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. That rate places Iowa fourth behind Idaho, South Dakota and Wisconsin

Iowa topped the milestone when it reported 438 new cases as of 11 a.m. Monday, according to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health. That brought the state’s total number of cases so far to 100,058 — roughly 3 percent of Iowa’s population.

Seven new deaths in five counties as a result of the virus were also reported during the 24-hour period Monday.

Woodbury County reported three deaths, according to the data, while Delaware, Dubuque, Linn and Wapello counties reported one each. The deaths pushed the state’s total to 1,467.

Of the 2,623 test results reported by the state as of 11 a.m. Monday — the fewest since Sept. 7 when 2,566 results were released — 438 came back positive while 2,185 came back negative or inconclusive, giving the state a 24-hour positivity rate of 16.7 percent.

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On Sunday, Iowa saw a sharp increase in its 24-hour positivity rate — 20.23 percent — the highest reported since Sept. 17 when the state saw a rate of 20.54 percent.

As the state reported the high rates, Des Moines’s mayor expressed concern that President Donald Trump’s rally Wednesday evening at the city’s airport could become a super-spreader event.

Trump acknowledged Oct. 2 he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was hospitalized, but is resuming campaigning.

Trump’s doctor said Monday for the first time the president had received a negative test for COVID-19, though his statement did not specify when the test was given.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie has required face coverings to be worn in public in the city since August, but Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has refused to implement a statewide order and has insisted that such local rules can’t be enforced.

Cownie said it appears in photos and video from large rallies Trump has held elsewhere that they often do not have proper distancing and include people ignoring masks.

Kayla Kovarna, an airport spokeswoman, said airport officials were told to prepare for up to 10,000 people at the rally, though an exact number isn’t yet clear since tickets can still be obtained.

Reynolds’ current emergency proclamation allows mass gatherings of more than 10 people but requires organizers to ensure there is at least 6 feet between each group or individual. It also requires reasonable measures be taken to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.

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A spokesman for Reynolds, an avid supporter of Trump, didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether the proclamation applies to the rally. She said in a statement she will attend and take precautions and “is encouraging those attending to adhere to the public health steps the campaign is taking such as temperature checks, and the use of hand sanitizer and masks.”

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the event will be in an open-door airplane hangar.

“We will have safety protocols in place. All attendees will be given a temperature check, masks, which they are instructed to wear, and access to hand sanitizer,” he said.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Iowa rose in the 24-hour period from 438 to 449 and the number of patients in intensive care climbed from 100 to 109. But the number of patients on ventilators dipped from 40 to 39.

Forty-seven people in education occupations received positive test results, according to the data, bringing the total to 4,694. Iowa’s school age children also saw an uptick with 52 new cases among those up to age 17, for a total of 8,619.

Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

The Associated Press contributed.

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