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COVID-19: Iowa has more than 1,000 hospitalized patients, Linn County sets a new one-day record and the outbreak in Iowa prisons gets worse

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Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

It took Iowa 226 days to reach 500 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, but it only took 20 days to go from 500 to 1,000 patients. On Monday morning, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 1,034 COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals.

A total of 184 of those patients were being treated in intensive care units.

The uncontrolled spread of the virus in Iowa continued over the weekend with IDPH reporting 8,462 new confirmed cases of the virus statewide between 10 a.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. on Sunday. During that same 48-hour period, the department also reported another 27 Iowans had died from the virus.

On Monday at 10 a.m., IDPH reported 4,212 cases of COVID-19 since 10 a.m. on Sunday. That number included 259 residents of Johnson County and 540 residents of Linn County, which is the highest number of cases ever reported in Linn County in a 24-hour period. The previous one-day high for Linn County was set on Saturday, when IDPH reported 388 new cases.

IDPH reported another three COVID-19 deaths on Monday, bringing the total number of deaths from the virus to 1,845 as of 10 a.m.

The state reached a new high for COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes on Saturday, when IDPH reported 92 ongoing outbreaks. That number remained unchanged as of Monday at 10 a.m.

The ongoing outbreak in the state’s prison system grew worse over the weekend. On Friday, the Iowa Department of Correction (DOC) was reporting 485 cases of the virus among inmates. The number had jumped to 1,141 on Monday, with inmates testing positive at seven of the state’s nine prisons.

DOC also reported a total of 106 staff members have tested positive. All nine state prisons had at least four infected staff members, according to the department. Anamosa had the highest number of staff members who have tested positive and are not considered recovered, with 51.

Five prisoners have died from COVID-19 since July. The most recent death, an inmate at Anamosa, was disclosed by DOC on Monday.

On Sunday night, Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah took the extraordinary step of activating the state’s Emergency Broadcasting System to break into all TV and radio broadcasts. This was done to inform Utahans the governor was declaring a state of emergency due to the out-of-hand spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Herbert imposed new mitigation measures, including a statewide mask mandate, limits on gatherings and weekly testing on all college campuses.

“These changes are not shutting down our economy, but are absolutely necessary to save lives and hospital capacity,” Herbert said.

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In April, Gov. Kim Reynolds followed the example of her fellow Republican Herbert, when she awarded a contract to a group of Utah tech firms to create Test Iowa. The companies had launched Test Utah three weeks before Test Iowa was unveiled. Test Utah was the only experience those companies had in running a large-scale testing program before Reynolds awarded them a $26 million no-bid contract for Test Iowa.

It seems unlikely Reynolds will follow Herbert’s example in declaring a COVID-19 emergency. Last week, she announced her administration would begin placing ads in newspapers, as well as on TV and radio, to encourage Iowans to behave responsibly and take basic steps to limit the spread of the disease, such as frequently and thoroughly washing their hands.

No further mitigation steps were necessary, according to the governor, because she trusts Iowans will do the right thing once the ads remind them to do so.

According to an analysis published by NPR on Monday, Utah was averaging 72 new cases a day of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks. Iowa was averaging 108 new cases a day per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks.

Iowa has seen an increase of 167 percent in its daily rate of new cases over the last two weeks, NPR reported.


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