CORONAVIRUS

Iowa sees record 2,579 coronavirus cases, with 79% positivity rate

But spike was result of earlier antigen tests being added, officials explain

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Corona
This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC via AP)

Iowa on Friday reported that more than three-quarters of the coronavirus tests performed in the past 24 hours had come back positive.

The positivity rate jumped to a record 79.43 percent — with 2,579 new COVID-19 cases confirmed out of 3,247 tests.

But Pat Garrett, spokesman for Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, said Friday evening that the abrupt increase is a one-time event, reflecting the addition of antigen tests to state numbers.

The results of about 10,000 antigen tests, previously marked as “inconclusive,” were updated as positive or negative — thereby boosting the number of cases and the positivity rate.

“The test was already counted,” he said. Now the antigen results are added in.

About 1,000 of the antigen tests — or 10 percent — were positive, Dr. Caitlin Pedati of the Iowa Department of Public Health told the Associated Press.

As a result of the catch-up, Garrett said, it’s possible some areas appeared to have more positive cases than they had tests conducted.

Antigen tests, which detect proteins on the surface of the coronavirus, are becoming increasingly popular because they return results much more quickly than standard COVID-19 tests.

The spike in new Iowa cases reported Friday, however, still broke the one-day record of 1,477 cases reported Thursday.

Johnson County, home to the University of Iowa in Iowa City, reported 247 new cases Friday, its second highest 24-hour total behind Thursday’s 338. Friday’s positivity rate was 55.5 percent, an increase from Thursday’s 47.6 percent.

Johnson County’s seven-day rolling average for positive cases is at a record 146.

Story County, home of Iowa State University in Ames, on Friday reported a record 239 cases, with 65.48 percent of tests coming back positive.

Polk County reported 664 new cases, bringing the total number of cases in Iowa’s most populous county to 12,885.

Linn County reported 43 new cases and one death, bringing the county’s death toll to 93. The positivity rate for tests in Linn County was 38.05 percent.

Another 11 coronavirus-related deaths were reported Friday, including one in Linn County. Taylor County in southwest Iowa reported its first death, becoming the 84th county in the state to report a virus fatality. Other counties reporting deaths were Black Hawk, Dallas, Muscatine, Plymouth, Wapello, Winnebago and Woodbury.

Statewide, 62,075 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the virus arrived in Iowa in mid-March. The statewide rolling seven-day average of new coronavirus cases is 1,052, marking the first time that average has been above 1,000.

The Gazette gathers coronavirus data from the Iowa Department of Health at 11 a.m. daily.

Comments: (319) 398-8394; john.steppe@thegazette.com Comments: (319) 398-8394; john.steppe@thegazette.com

Gazette digital coach Katie Brumbeloe contributed to this report.

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