CORONAVIRUS

Johnson County and all of Iowa break records for daily COVID-19 cases

1,477 new cases reported statewide, with 338 new cases in Johnson County

A sign marks the beginning of the COVID-19 testing line and check-in for students moving into campus housing at Lied Rec
A sign marks the beginning of the COVID-19 testing line and check-in for students moving into campus housing at Lied Recreation Center at Iowa State University in Ames on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Iowa on Thursday reported 1,477 new coronavirus cases, the most reported in a 24-hour period since mid-March when the virus arrived in Iowa.

The previous record of new cases was 878 on Aug. 20, according to public health data analyzed by The Gazette.

Johnson County — home of the University of Iowa in Iowa City — reported 338 new cases, the most reported in any county in a 24-hour period.

Statewide, the new cases came out of 7,477 tests — for a positivity rate of 19.75 percent, far higher than earlier in the month.

The positivity rate in Johnson County was 47.6 percent, out of 710 tests conducted.

The state also reported 18 additional deaths Thursday.

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Johnson County’s total number of COVID-19 cases since mid-March is now 3,095, moving it into fourth place in the list of Iowa counties with the most COVID-19 cases. Linn County dropped from fourth to fifth place, with 2,847 cases.

The seven-day rolling average of positive tests in Johnson County reached 115, surpassing the previous record of 70 from Wednesday.

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Story County — the location of Iowa State University in Ames — reported 165 new cases on Thursday morning, the second-highest single-day total. The seven-day rolling average of new cases was 64, surpassing the record 44 set the day before

Story County has had 1,897 confirmed cases since March.

Black Hawk County — home of the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls — reported 70 new cases Thursday, bringing the countywide total to 3,613, third highest in the state.

Linn County reported 45 new cases Thursday, and Polk County reported 217 new cases.

Statewide, coronavirus cases totaled 59,496 as of 11 a.m. Thursday. The seven-day rolling average of new cases was 809, up from Wednesday’s record 640.

Testing Protocol unchanged

The state recommendations for who can and should be tested for the coronavirus will not change despite changes by the federal government, state epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati said Thursday.

Earlier this week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped recommending testing for any person who has come in close contact with another person known to have the virus. The new guidance says those individuals “do not necessarily need a test” unless they are vulnerable to the virus’ impact or a test is recommended by a physician or public health official.

During the governor’s Thursday news conference, Pedati said the state’s recommendations have not changed.

“My current recommendation is still that testing be performed for anybody who is suspected to have COVID-19, or who has been in close contact (with someone who has),” Pedati said. “That has not changed.”

Antigen tests

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday the state will begin including antigen tests results in the state’s record-keeping of positive and negative new coronavirus test results.

Reynolds said the roughly 10,000 antigen tests previously were recorded in the overall number of tests administered statewide, but antigen test results were recorded only as “inconclusive,” never as positive or negative.

That will change immediately, Reynolds said Thursday, as antigen testing is becoming more common.

An antigen test is usually easier and faster than other tests for the coronavirus. Typically a throat or nasal swab is taken, and results can be produced in minutes.

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However, antigen tests also have a higher probability of producing a false negative, meaning a person could be infected with the virus but still receive a negative antigen test result, according to The Mayo Clinic.

The state will retroactively apply past antigen test results to the state’s data. Doing that, Pedati said, will increase the positivity rate by 0.2 percent; 48 counties will see no increase or decrease; and 50 counties will see an increase between 0.1 percent and 1 percent.

One county, Van Buren in southeast Iowa, will see a significant increase in its positivity rate, from 6.6 percent to 11.6 percent.

“We just thought it was important, as we’ve seen the number (of antigen tests) increase, that we take that into account when we’re looking at positive cases in the state of Iowa,” Reynolds said.

The 18 deaths reported by state public health officials Thursday brought the Iowa’s death toll to 1,080.

Two deaths were reported in Johnson County. Other counties reporting deaths were Boone, Clinton, Dallas, Des Moines, Howard, Marshall, Muscatine, Plymouth, Polk, Wapello and Woodbury counties.

Hospitalizations across Iowa are down slightly, falling from 313 to 305. Intensive care patients also decreased from 102 to 99. Patients on ventilators increased by four, to 44.

Comments: (319) 398-8469; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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