Another 8,689 Iowans tested positive for COVID-19 between 10 a.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. on Monday, including 263 residents of Johnson County and 589 residents of Linn County, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The new cases bring the total number of Iowans who have tested positive for the virus to 211,722.
During that same 72-hour period, IDPH reported another 78 deaths from the virus. The deceased include six residents of Linn County. As of 10 a.m. on Monday, Iowa’s COVID-19 death toll stood at 2,205.
The number of outbreaks in Iowa’s long-term care facilities increased by one since Friday, with IDPH reporting 120 such outbreaks on Monday morning.
The number of patients with COVID-19 in Iowa’s hospitals declined over the weekend, from 1,447 on Friday to 1,333, according to IDPH. The number of those patients being treated in intensive care units declined by two patients between Friday and Monday, going from 275 to 273.
The decrease in the number of hospitalized patients — IDPH does not publish information on how many of the 117 patients no longer listed as hospitalized died, were transferred to long-term care facilities or were considered healthy enough to be sent home — is not enough to relieve the pressure Iowa hospitals are facing.
Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in Iowa have increased by 337 percent over the last two months. On Sept. 23, as the current surge was beginning, IDPH reported 305 patients with confirmed cases of the virus in the state’s hospitals.
Like in other states, the ongoing surge in Iowa is being driven by small gatherings of family and friends. To reduce the potential spread of the virus over Thanksgiving, the CDC has recommended people limit their holiday gathering to individuals already living in their households. Hundreds of thousands of Americans appear to be ignoring that advice, judging by statistics from the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA).
On Friday, 1,019,836 travelers passed through TSA checkpoints at airports. It was the first time since March 16 that 1,000,000 travelers or more going through checkpoints. On Saturday, TSA recorded 984,369 travelers, and on Sunday that number jumped to 1,047,934 people passing through airport checkpoints.
Those statistics, of course, do not reflect the number of Americans driving to Thanksgiving gatherings.
During her news conference last Thursday, Gov. Kim Reynolds was asked what her recommendation was to people considering having Thanksgiving with people outside their immediate households.
“As you gather through the holiday — we put an indoor gathering limit in place just to try to do everything we can right now to minimize the spread — so just be conscientious of your surroundings, who you’re bringing in, and practice mitigation efforts,” Reynolds replied.
The governor’s latest emergency health proclamation bans indoor gatherings of more than 15 people, although that ban has several exceptions.
But beyond that 15-person limit she has mandated, the governor said she is relying on people to follow common-sense precautions.
“Iowans know what to do,” Reynolds said. “They’ll do the right thing. They’re responsible.”