Iowa is nearing the 300,000 mark in COVID-19 cases as the virus continues to spread across the state and country.
The state reported 1,841 new cases of the virus in the 24 hours ending at 11 a.m. Wednesday, bringing the state’s total case count to 299,918 since last March when the pandemic arrived in Iowa.
The new cases were diagnosed in 5,259 tests, for a one-day positivity rate of 35 percent.
The state’s seven-day average for positive cases is 1,484, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Wednesday’s new cases included 224 positive tests among children 17 and younger and three cases among education workers. To date, 31,767 children and 7,684 education workers in Iowa have tested positive for the virus.
As of Wednesday, 48 of Iowa’s 99 counties were reporting 14-day positivity rates higher than 15 percent, according to a Gazette analysis of public health data.
Linn County on Wednesday reported 77 new cases, with a seven-day average of new cases of 65. The county has had 17,465 cases since March.
Johnson County reported 71 new cases, with a seven-day average of 57. The county has had 11,818 cases since March.
The number of virus patients being treated in Iowa hospitals decreased again on Wednesday, from 552 to 516 — the lowest number of hospitalizations reported since 501 on Oct. 30.
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The number of patients being treated in intensive care units also declined, from 90 to 79, and the number of patients on ventilators to help them breathe held steady at 30.
The state on Wednesday also reported 10 confirmed virus-related deaths. Two were individuals over the age of 80, seven were between the ages of 61 and 80 and one was between 41 and 60.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 264,125 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been distributed to Iowa since Dec. 14, 2020, and 112,093 Iowans have received their first dose of the two-shot vaccine.
Public health officials are currently focused on vaccinating the state’s Phase 1A populations, which include front-line health care workers and residents and staff at long-term care facilities.
Inoculation of individuals at the long-term care facilities — being handled through a federal partnership with three major retail pharmacies — is expected to complete the first doses by the end of this month.
Many recipients of these doses are prevalent in certain counties with a high concentration of health care workers, including Johnson, Linn and Polk counties. Of the more than 91,500 vaccine doses administered as of Monday, about 9,400 were given to Johnson County residents and nearly 6,800 were administered to Linn County residents, according to state data.
Vaccination for Phase 1B groups will begin as soon as the health care workforce in Iowa has reached 60 percent to 70 percent coverage, health officials said.
Phase 1B groups include school and child care staff, first responders, correctional facility staff and inmates, Iowans age 75 and over, staff and individuals living in congregate settings such as behavioral health treatment centers, and disabled Iowans and their caregivers.
State officials also will prioritize workers at food, distribution and manufacturing facilities, including meatpacking plants. These individuals, who live in and work in congregate settings that make social distancing impossible, have experienced frequent outbreaks of clusters of illness throughout the pandemic.
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Vaccines administered to essential workers will be coordinated through employer-based clinics.
On Wednesday, COVID-19 outbreaks — three or more cases among residents and staff — were reported at 84 long-term care facilities in Iowa, with 1.928 individuals testing positive.
Northbrook Manor Care Center in Cedar Rapids is reporting 45 cases, with one recovery.
The Gardens of Cedar Rapids is reporting 21 cases, with one recovery.
In Johnson County, Briarwood Healthcare Center reported two new cases, for a total of nine, and Lantern Park Specialty Care reported 30 cases, with 27 recoveries.
In Benton County, Belle Plaine Specialty Care is reporting 34 cases, with 32 recoveries.
The ABCM Rehabilitation Centers of Independence East Campus in Buchanan County reported one new case, for a total of 34, with 32 recoveries.
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