CORONAVIRUS

COVID-19 hospitalizations remain high in Iowa

State adds 1,304 cases, 5 deaths in 24-hour period

A bottle of hand sanitizer sits on a cart as Des Moines Public Schools custodian Tracy Harris cleans a chair in a classr
A bottle of hand sanitizer sits on a cart as Des Moines Public Schools custodian Tracy Harris cleans a chair in a classroom at Brubaker Elementary School, Wednesday, July 8, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. As the Trump administration pushes full steam ahead to force schools to resume in-person education, public health experts warn that a one-size-fits-all reopening could drive infection and death rates even higher. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The number of people in Iowa hospitalized because of the novel coronavirus retreated Sunday from its record high, but remained at its second-worst level ever.

The soaring number of hospitalizations — Iowa set records three times last week for new highs — are fueling concerns that hospitals in the state will be hard-pressed by the end of the year to have the capacity to handle patients who suffer some of the diseases’s worst symptoms.

Unless more steps are taken to mitigate the spread of the disease, Iowa will run out of intensive-care unit beds for COVID-19 patients in early December and remain short until early January, according to projections from the respected Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

State public health data shows that Saturday’s record 545 COVID-19 hospitalizations inched down to 541 in the 24-period that ended at 11 a.m. Sunday. The number of those in intensive care declined from 130 to 119 and those on ventilators to help breathe went down from 49 to 42.

Another 1,304 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed during the period, for a total of 115,775 since March. Linn County added 82 of those cases, for a total of 5,484, and Johnson County added 32 cases, for a total of 5,830 cases so far.

Another 125 cases were added in the period for school-age children up to age 17, for a total of 10,166; and another 40 people in the education field tested positive for a total of 5,781.

Positivity rates — the percentage of tests conducted that return as positive — continued Sunday to be at alarmingly high levels.

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Of the 5,006 test results run in the 24-hour period in Iowa, about 1 in 4 — 26.05 percent — were positive. The positivity rates in Linn and Johnson counties each were over 19 percent.

The national positivity rate is about 6 percent when averaged over all states in the last 14 days.

Iowa reported another five COVID-19 deaths in the period for a total so far of 1,624.

Two of the deaths were recorded in Polk County. Cass and Hardin counties recorded one each, as did Osceola — its first, making it the 92nd of Iowa’s 99 counties to record a death due to the disease.

The state removed three long-term care facilities from its outbreak list — West Ridge Specialty Care in Marion County; Ruthven Community Care Center in Muscatine County; and Hegg Memorial Health Center in Sioux County.

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