Surge in Virus Cases Threatens to Overwhelm Iowa Hospitals

There has been an average of 3,498 new cases per day in the Hawkeye State over the past week, an increase of 175% from two weeks earlier.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a news conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Aug. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) — Iowa is seeing an alarming rise in positive Covid-19 cases, with the third-highest infection rate in the nation putting increasing strain on hospitals and medical staff.

The Iowa Department of Public health reported 4,212 new coronavirus cases Monday morning, bringing to 157,864 the total number of Covid-19 cases, and 1,847 deaths, since the pandemic began.

These rising rates put Iowa among the leading states in the nation in Covid-19 cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention. The CDC reported Iowa’s infection rate at 101.6 cases per 100,000 population in the past seven days as of Monday, behind only North Dakota (155.8 per 100,000) and South Dakota (130.8 per 100,000).

Over the past week, there has been an average of 3,498 new cases per day in the Hawkeye State, according to the New York Times’ database, an increase of 175% from the average two weeks earlier.

One of the big concerns in Iowa is the growing number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus. As of Monday, 1,034 Iowans were hospitalized with Covid-19, and 184 of them in intensive care units. In the past 24 hours, 152 were admitted, the state health department reported Monday morning.

The state’s hospitals have 2,800 total beds available, and 382 beds in intensive care units. Hospital officials report that while there is bed capacity, the increasing numbers of patients has put strain on their staff.

Health care leaders of two of the state’s largest hospitals pleaded in a recent press conference that Iowans must “do their part” to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Despite the growing numbers, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has stood fast on her opposition to additional lockdowns, mask mandates and limits on large gatherings. But in her most recent press conference Thursday, the Republican governor said the state government would launch a public awareness campaign this week encouraging social distancing and hygiene.

“Government solutions alone can’t stop this virus. It’s up to every single one of us,” Reynolds said, encouraging people to wear masks and take other precautions, according to the Des Moines Register. “And as the weather changes and more of our activities move indoors, I’m asking you to take additional precautions and carefully consider whether certain events are worth the risk that they could present for you or someone you love.”

A spokesman for the governor did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Courthouse News on Monday.

The other growing concern is the impact of Iowa’s surging virus cases on public schools.

While most school districts in the state have at least some level of in-classroom instruction for students, some districts are beginning to close down individual buildings, or consider going back to all-virtual education until the numbers begin to decline and in-class education is considered safer.

The Des Moines Public School District’s board voted Sunday night to seek a waiver that would allow the district – the state’s largest with more than 30,000 students – to revert to virtual classes with students staying home and working with teachers online.

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