CORONAVIRUS

Hospitalizations continue to decline as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in Iowa

A worn mask is left in the parking lot of the Oakland Road Hy-Vee in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Hy-Vee is n
A worn mask is left in the parking lot of the Oakland Road Hy-Vee in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. Hy-Vee is not currently requiring customers to wear masks while shopping, but masks were offered as customers entered. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Iowa dropped to their lowest since late September, according to data from the state Sunday, which also was the first day many COVID-19 public health restrictions were lifted.

There were 316 people hospitalized for the coronavirus Sunday, the lowest since Sept. 25, when there 300. Hospitalizations have been steadily dropping since their peak above 1,500 in mid-November.

Public health restrictions were eased Sunday, with the state no longer requiring mask-wearing or social distancing measures for restaurants and other businesses. On Friday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced she was scaling back her emergency proclamation that put in place those restrictions and others, including on sizes of gatherings.

MASKS STILL REQUIRED: In Cedar Rapids and Linn County, mask ordinances in effect

There were no new COVID-19 deaths reported Sunday morning and 535 new COVID-19 cases during the 24-hour period ending at 11 a.m., according to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Since the virus first appeared in Iowa in early March, 324,406 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 5,108 people have died.

Only three of the state’s 99 counties reported 14-day positivity rates above 15 percent.

Linn County reported 33 new cases in the 24-hour period, bringing the county’s total number of cases since March to 18,848. The county’s seven-day average is 49.

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Johnson County added 19 new cases during the 24-hour period, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 12,655. The county’s seven-day average is 28.

Vaccines

As of 11 a.m. Sunday, 341,923 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Of those, 162,839 were initiating vaccinations — the first of the two-dose regimen — and 89,542 were second doses.

In Linn County, 24,751 vaccinations have been administered to residents, according to the state, and 6,123 people, or 2.7 percent of the population, have received both doses.

In Johnson County, 26,522 vaccinations have been administered to residents, and 8,828 people, or 5.84 percent of the population, have received both doses.

Who is eligible for vaccines?

Front-line health care workers, residents and staff at long-term care facilities, andáIowans 65 and older are eligible to receive vaccines now.

For Iowans under age 65, you may qualify for a vaccine if you meet criteria in the groups below. The tiers of Phase 1B are ranked in order of vaccination priority:

• Tier 1: First responders such as firefighters, police officers and child welfare social workers; school staff and early childhood education and child care workers.

• Tier 2: Food, agriculture, distribution and manufacturing workers who work or live in congregate settings that don’t allow for social distancing; people with disabilities living in home settings and their caregivers.

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• Tier 3: Staff and residents in congregate living settings that include shelters, behavioral health treatment centers, sober living homes and detention centers (but not college dorms); government officials and staff working at the Iowa Capitol during the legislative session.

• Tier 4: Inspectors responsible for hospital, long-term care and child safety.

• Tier 5: Correctional facility staff and incarcerated people in state and local facilities.

Those who don’t meet these criteria will have to wait. The state will announce when other ages and occupational categories qualify.

Hospitalizations

The number of patients being treated in Iowa dropped in the 24-hour period, from 336 to 316. The number of patients in intensive care units increased from 67 to 68, and the number of patients on ventilators increased from 30 to 32.

Long-term care

State data shows 44 COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities, with 1,400 residents or staff testing positive for the virus.

To date, 2,093 nursing home residents have died of the virus.

The Gazette’s John McGlothlen contributed to this report.

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