CORONAVIRUS

Iowa reports another record-high for COVID-19 hospitalizations

Federal officials say 950,000 rapid tests to be sent to Iowa

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). (CDC via AP)

Nearly eight months after the novel coronavirus was confirmed in the state, more patients are being treated for the disease than ever before in Iowa hospitals.

Iowa saw its fifth peak in hospitalizations in the past eight days Monday as hospital admittances for COVID-19 climbed from 541 to 561 patients in a 24-period ending at 11 a.m. Monday.

The previous highs of hospitalized patients were 545 Saturday, 536 Thursday and Friday, 534 on Oct. 20 and 501 on Oct. 19.

Amid the rising numbers, the Trump administration announced Monday it was sending 950,000 antigen tests to the state. The rapid tests can diagnose an infection in as little as 15 minutes, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and will be distributed at the discretion of Gov. Kim Reynolds to support the testing of primary and secondary students and teachers, nursing home patients and staff, first responders and other priorities.

Reynolds has not held a news conference to publicly discuss the state’s response to the pandemic in two weeks. A spokesman for her office said Monday one would be held this week, but details were not announced.

Among the record number of patients being treated for the disease in Iowa, the number of patients in intensive care because of it jumped from 119 to 129, and the number of patients using ventilators to help breathe inched up from 42 to 45 in the period.

In 14 southeast Iowa counties that include Iowa City, Davenport, Muscatine, Mount Pleasant, Fairfield and Burlington, 126 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment as of Monday afternoon — a record for the health care region.

That includes 44 patients from the region in intensive care and 14 patients on ventilators.

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“It’s been creeping up. We keep beating our own record for hospitalizations,” said Washington County Public Health Director Danielle Pettit-Majewski. She said the numbers have been steadily escalating since the beginning of October.

“We’re seeing increased hospitalizations and deaths,” she said. “We’re seeing more cases, which leads to more hospitalizations and thus, more deaths.”

Iowa added 685 new COVID-19 cases in the 24-hour period Monday, bringing the total number of cases so far in Iowa to 116,460, and Iowa’s seven-day average to 1,269 new cases — another record.

The remaining 2,092 of the 2,777 test results reported Monday came back negative or inconclusive, making for a statewide positivity rate of 24.67 percent.

In comparison, federal public health officials recommend mask wearing, social distancing and crowd limits if the positivity rate exceeds 5 percent over a 14-day average.

Iowa also reported three new COVID-19 deaths in the 24-hour period — one each in Allamakee, Iowa and Plymouth counties.

Linn County added 45 cases in the period, bringing its total to 5,529. The county’s seven-day average is 72 new cases — another record high — and its positivity rate is 20.36 percent.

Johnson County added 22 cases, bringing its total to 5,852 cases. The county’s seven-day average is 33 cases, and its positivity rate is 13.1 percent.

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Forty-five new cases were reported among people employed in the education sector and 81 new cases were reported among school-age children up to 17 years old.

The total number of education employees infected with COVID-19 is now 5,5826, while 10,247 children in Iowa have tested positive.

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

The Southeast Iowa Union, the Associated Press and John McGlothlen of The Gazette contributed to this report.

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