Health

Iowa coronavirus spike eases, but positive rate remains high

A sign in support of University of Iowa health care workers is seen in front of the Old Capitol Museum in Iowa City on F
A sign in support of University of Iowa health care workers is seen in front of the Old Capitol Museum in Iowa City on Friday, April 3, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

After days of spiking COVID-19 cases, the number of new infections and deaths declined Monday but the percentage of coronavirus tests that prove positive remains alarmingly high.

The statewide 17.37 percent positivity rate reported for the 24-hour period ending at 11 a.m. Monday represents the 18th day in a row that rate has been over 10 percent. The counties where the state’s public universities are located also fared poorly on the rate as college students have been driving the recent spikes:

• Johnson County, home to the University of Iowa, saw a positivity rate during the period of 29.22 percent. But it added 71 new cases, the lowest number of new infections in about two weeks.

• Black Hawk County, home to the University of Northern Iowa, saw a positivity rate of 14.29 percent. It added 27 new cases during the period.

• Story County, home to Iowa State University, saw a 45.76 percent positivity rate. But since so few tests were run during the period — 59 — the county reported just 27 new cases.

According to state public health data, these counties have 14-day averages above 15 percent for their positivity rates:

• Johnson: 23.6 percent

• Sioux: 22.2 percent

• Story: 21.1 percent

• Plymouth: 20.4 percent

• Carroll: 18.5 percent

• Bremer: 18.0 percent

• Lyon: 17.5 percent

• Marion: 16.3 percent

In all, Iowa recorded 544 new cases during the 24-hour period, bringing the total so far to 70,375.

Boone County and Linn County each reported one death due to the virus, bring the statewide total so far to 1,167.

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Hospitalizations due to the virus inched up two to 311, and patients in intensive care increased by eight to 99. But those using ventilators to help breathe declined by two to 35 patients.

Nathan Ford of The Gazette contributed to this report.

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