The COVID-19 pandemic in Iowa showed signs again Sunday of easing, though the number of people being treated for the disease in hospitals remains well above the high of last summer’s surge despite more than three weeks of trending downward.
In a 24-hour period ending at 11 a.m. Sunday, the number of COVID-19 patients in Iowa hospitals declined from 820 to 749 — but that still is far higher than the 417 patient peak on May 7 during last summer’s surge.
Of those now hospitalized, the number in intensive care remained at 170 for the period, and the number using ventilators to help breathe rose from 94 to 99.
The state reported 1,240 new cases of the novel coronavirus, though that was based on only 3,756 test results in the period. The addition brought the total to 256,249 people in Iowa who have been infected since March.
Of the new cases, 42 were in Linn County and 26 in Johnson County.
Public health data showed one additional COVID-19 death was confirmed in the period — a person over 80 in Louisa County. Last week, the state said it was changing the way it counted COVID-19 deaths and said as a result it could take longer for a death attributed to the virus to be added to a database.
Measures in Iowa to mitigate the viral spread are set to expire Wednesday unless Gov. Kim Reynolds extends or alters them. Under the order, Iowans must wear a mask or other face covering while indoors in public and within 6 feet of others for 15 minutes. The order. among other provisions, also requires bars, restaurants and other venues serving alcohol to close at 10 p.m.
The most recently released update of a White House Coronavirus Task Force notes that while Iowa remains categorized as a “red zone” state with a high rate of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations, it has shown improvement.
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The Dec. 6 report for Iowa notes “encouraging signs as cases and new hospital admissions have plateaued; however, this should be viewed very cautiously ...”
The report said that 94 of Iowa’s 99 counties remain in the worst “red zone,” although that is a slight improvement over past weeks. The task force said Johnson, Poweshiek and Franklin counties were in an intermediate ”orange zone” and that Shelby and Greene counties were in a slightly better “yellow zone.”
Katie Brumbeloe of The Gazette contributed to this report.
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