COVID-19: More than 9,800 new cases reported; anti-vaxxers rally at the Iowa State Capitol

Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

After three weeks of reporting over 10,000 new cases in each of its weekly COVID-19 updates, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 9,860 newly confirmed cases of the virus. Although it was it was a decline from the previous update’s total of 10,812 new cases, it also marked the seventh week with a rate of more than 1,000 new cases per day.

For the fifth straight week, children accounted for the highest percentage of new cases, according to IDPH’s demographic breakdown by age. Iowans under 18 made up 23 percent of the news cases in the update.

IDPH reported an additional 91 deaths from the virus, but also reclassified three previously reported deaths, removing from the department’s official total of COVID-19 deaths. According to current official total, 6,151 Iowans have died from COVID-19.

Hospitalizations increased slightly from the previous update, going from 624 to 626.

According to IDPH, 60.6 percent of Iowans 12 and older are now fully vaccinated. Among all Iowans, the percentage of those fully vaccinated is 51.6.

The pace of vaccinations remain slow in Iowa, and this week anti-vaxxers staged a protest at the Iowa State Capitol, as the Legislature met for its special session on redistricting on Tuesday.

The event, which was staged by the anti-vax group Informed Choice Iowa, brought more than 100 protesters into the Capitol Rotunda, where they chanted and waved signs denouncing vaccine mandates.

Tamara Scott, who has represented Iowa on the Republican National Committee since 2012, was one of the rally’s featured speakers.

“I’m thrilled to see all of you, but I’m actually aggravated that we have to be here at all,” Scott said. “Who would have thought, in America, in Iowa, we would have to come to plead for our rights and our liberty?”

A row of children stood behind Scott as she spoke, holding signs that read, “The final variant is communism” and “Proudly unpoisoned,” Iowa Capitol Dispatch noted.

Scott wasn’t the only Republican official to address the crowd.

“We have not just COVID-19, but we have totalitarian fever, and that is what we have to eradicate,” Rep. Sandy Salmon of Janesville said, before telling the people that vaccine mandates are unconstitutional. In August, Salmon attended Mike Lindell’s Cyber Symposium, echoing the pillow magnate’s baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Rep. Jeff Shipley speaks during Informed Choice Iowa’s rally against vaccine mandates at the State Capitol on Oct. 5, 2021. — video still via Informed Choice Iowa on Facebook

Rep. Jeff Shipley of Birmingham said the redistricting process — the reason for the special session –was meaningless if the federal government had the power to create require some Iowans, such as federal government workers and employees in healthcare facilities that receive funds from Medicaid and Medicare, to be vaccinated, and called vaccines mandates “a crime against humanity.” Sen. Dennis Guth of Klemme warned the protesters they would become nothing but “mindless cattle” if they didn’t push back against mandates.

While most of the event focused on condemning vaccine mandates, protesters also took time to denounce mask mandates. But that is an issue of lesser importance, Informed Choice Iowa’s Brei Johnson told the Des Moines Register.

“You can take off a mask but you can’t undo a vaccine,” she said. “That’s a slippery slope to what comes next.”

In May, Johnson was a candidate in the special election to fill a vacancy on the Johnston City Council. She finished in last place in a field of four candidates.

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