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FROM THE CAPTIAL DISPATCH

COVID-19 hospitalizations climb to near-record levels in Iowa

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Coronavirus
This is a new image of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the disease that flared in Wuhan, China, in late December.

The number of Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19 is continuing to climb and is close to breaking the record set in early May.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have been growing steadily over the past 12 days. On Thursday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported a near-record number of Iowans hospitalized with the virus: 407, which is the highest number since Iowa’s COVID-19 hospitalizations peaked at 414 on May 5.

Thursday’s total represents a 50% increase in hospitalizations in just the past 12 days.

Even more significant is the rolling count of new COVID-19 hospital admissions as calculated over a two-week period. On Thursday, the two-week total of COVID-19 patients newly admitted to Iowa hospitals  reached an all-time high of 709. The previous high was 593 on Sept. 8.

Statewide, there still are 2,730 hospital beds, and 446 intensive care unit beds, available, according to IDPH.

When asked at a press conference Tuesday about the recent increase in hospitalizations, Gov. Kim Reynolds said her office is “monitoring where the upticks are at, we’re reaching out individually to those hospitals, to make sure that, you know, they still have bed capacity and if we’re meeting the staffing ratios.”

Reynolds said the number of Iowans on ventilators is “pretty stable and is actually coming down,” and she commended the state’s hospitals for “doing a great job.”

The increase in hospitalizations coincides with an increased number of newly confirmed infections. On Wednesday, an additional 1,014 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Iowa, along with 17 more deaths, according to the New York Times’ COVID-19 tracker.

Over the past week, there has been an average of 899 new cases per day in Iowa, an increase of 24 percent from the average two weeks earlier, according to the Times.

As of Thursday morning, at least 89,248 Iowans had been infected with the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, and 1,358 Iowans have died.

As is usually the case, the Times’ single-day tally of Iowa’s new infections and deaths conflicts with what is being reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

According to the IDPH COVID-19 website, there were only 95 new infections — less than one-tenth the total reported by the New York Times — and zero deaths on Wednesday.

State public health officials have acknowledged problems with data reporting, but only after those issues have come to light through media reports. The agency has blamed what it calls an “antiquated” computer system as the reason it had been under-reporting daily case counts earlier this summer.

Statewide, there are 523 nursing homes with current, active outbreaks, an increase of three from earlier in the week. There are 1,090 infections associated with those outbreaks.

The Iowa nursing home with the most infections associated with a current outbreak is the Good Samaritan home in Ottumwa, with 86 infections.

Currently, there are six Polk County nursing homes with active outbreaks, and the number of staff and resident infections at those homes now totals 61.

 

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