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COVID-19: Iowa City ranks high on list of surging U.S. cities as more than 500 UI students report testing positive

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Irving Weber dawns a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic in downtown Iowa City. — Jason Smith/Little Village

The surge of new COVID-19 cases in Johnson County continued on Friday, with the Iowa Department of Public Health reporting 258 new cases in the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m., and the New York Times ranking Iowa City second on its list of cities where cases of the virus are have risen fastest on a per capita basis over the last seven days.

A total of 3,333 residents of Johnson County had tested positive for COVID-19 as of 10 a.m. Friday, according to IDPH. The department’s official 14-day positivity rate for the county increase from 16.5 percent on Thursday to 19.5 percent on Friday.

During her press conference on Thursday, Gov. Kim Reynolds said that over “the last seven days, 69 percent of new cases in Johnson County” were among 18 to 24-year-olds. And in a COVID-19 update published on Friday, the University of Iowa said that since Monday 500 students had self-reported they tested positive for the virus.

Those new cases bring the total number of UI students who have self-reported positive tests to 607 since classes began on Aug. 18.

Another seven cases of the virus were UI staff, bringing the total number of self-reported cases among staff for the semester to 11.

According to UI, there are currently 40 residence hall students in quarantine and 19 residence hall students in self-isolation. The email explains that isolation is for students who may have been exposed to the virus, and self-isolation is used to separate people confirmed as having COVID-19 from others.

Statewide, the surge in cases continued as well. On Friday, IDPH reported another 2,663 Iowans, including 48 residents of Linn County, had tested positive for COVID-19 during the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. Friday. The new cases increased the total number of Iowans who have tested positive for the virus to 62,031.

Just as Iowa City ranked second on the New York Times‘ list of urban areas with the fastest growth in per capita COVID-19 cases in the last seven days, Iowa ranked second in the United States for case-growth per capita over the same period. Iowa’s 220 new cases per 100,000 residents was only surpassed by the 313 cases per 100,000 residents in the territory of Guam.

No state had a higher per capita increase in cases over the last week than Iowa.

It’s also worth noting that Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, North Dakota and South Dakota are all also on the Times’ list of states where COVID-19 cases are increasing fastest. Gov. Reynolds has said she regularly consults with the governors of the states on how to handle the virus.

As of 10 a.m. Friday, IDPH was reporting that 1,091 Iowans had died of COVID-19, an increase of 12 deaths since 10 a.m. Thursday. One of the newly reported deaths was in Linn County. The county’s death toll from the virus now stands at 93. In Johnson County, a total of 26 COVID-19 deaths had been reported as of 10 a.m. Friday.

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