Advertisement

COVID-19: Iowa sets another record for deaths, has a third straight day of almost 3,000 new cases


Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

One day after the previous record for deaths reported in a 24-hour period was shattered by the Iowa Department of Public Health disclosing 70 deaths from COVID-19, Iowa surpassed that total. At 10 a.m. on Friday, IDPH reported another 84 Iowans had died from the virus.

The newly reported deaths included two residents of Johnson County and one resident of Linn County, and pushed the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 2,603.

The failure of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration to control the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa was the subject of two stories in national publications this week.

On Thursday, The Atlantic published “Iowa Is What Happens When Government Does Nothing” by Elaine Godfrey, who covers politics for the magazine.

To visit Iowa right now is to travel back in time to the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in places such as New York City and Lombardy and Seattle, when the horror was fresh and the sirens never stopped. Sick people are filling up ICUs across the state… On the TV in my parents’ house in Burlington, hospital CEOs are begging Iowans to hunker down and please, for the love of God, wear a mask. This sense of new urgency is strange, though, because the pandemic isn’t in its early days. The virus has been raging for eight months in this country; Iowa just hasn’t been acting like it.

Godfrey’s recounting of failures to act covers ground that will be familiar to Little Village readers, but will no doubt surprise many people outside Iowa. As comprehensive as Godfrey is, she doesn’t touch on some notable examples of failure and inaction, such as the revelation in August that the Iowa Department of Public Health had been misreporting important COVID-19 data for months, or the fact that IDPH has been without a fulltime director for over four months.

Godfrey’s story examines the pressure the surging virus in Iowa is putting on healthcare workers at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

“The University of Iowa hospital reached a peak of 37 COVID-19 inpatients in April, but by Thanksgiving, it had 90,” Godfrey wrote. “That number may not seem overwhelming until you consider that COVID-19 patients require dozens of staff and that many spend weeks or months in hospital care. To meet the demand, administrators have had to reschedule hundreds of nonessential surgeries and converted multiple wards into COVID-19 units. Doctors told me that they’re already short on ICU beds, and are having to decide which critically ill patients receive one… Worst of all, health-care workers are sapped.”

It’s a point that a UIHC nurse drove home in a letter to Little Village last month.

“We are tired,” the nurse wrote. “It has been extremely exhausting to work in healthcare during this pandemic. Despite this, nothing is more emotionally draining for me than to hear how tired everyone else is, how non-healthcare workers loathe wearing a mask so much for their one-hour grocery trip or how they miss dining in restaurants.”

Godfrey noted that Reynolds did introduce some new mitigation efforts, including a partial mask mandate, but made it clear how limited those measures are.

“Four of the doctors and nurses I interviewed laughed — actually laughed — when I asked what they thought of the new regulations,” she wrote. “The policies will do basically nothing to prevent the spread of the virus, they told me.”

Much of what Godfrey wrote can be summarized by something Dr. Eli Perencevich, a UIHC infectious disease doctor and professor of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology at UI’s Carver College of Medicine, told her: “In a lot of ways, Iowa is serving as the control group of what not to do.”

Iowa was also one of three states examined in a story published by the national nonprofit investigative journalism site ProPublica on Tuesday, “States With Few Coronavirus Restrictions Are Spreading the Virus Beyond Their Borders.”

Much of the story’s focus is on Idaho, which along with South Dakota and Iowa make up the three states with lax policies that are causing new cases in neighboring states. ProPublica reporter David Armstrong recounts how Iowa, for example, attracted golfers, shoppers and people looking to dine out from Illinois, because Iowa had far fewer COVID-19 restrictions.

Debbie Freiburg, a volunteer contact tracer… [on] the Illinois side of the border, said the looser restrictions in Iowa offered Illinois residents the chance to “take a break” from the virus.

“It’s bad and the differences are huge, unfortunately,” she said. “I can be in Iowa in 10 minutes, and there were a lot of us going shopping in Iowa.”

Like Godfrey, Armstrong noted that Reynolds has lately altered her stance.

“As cases in Iowa began to surge this summer, Gov. Kim Reynolds dismissed mask mandates as ‘feel-good’ measures that are difficult to enforce,” he wrote. “Until recently, Iowa restaurants and gyms were allowed to operate at full capacity as long as social distancing measures were in place. There was no state-imposed limit on the size of social gatherings. Nicknamed ‘COVID Kim’ by her critics, Reynolds changed course in mid-November in the face of surging cases and hospitalizations, requiring masks.”

And as with Godfrey’s story, Armstrong’s can largely be summed up by one quote from a healthcare professional.

“In some ways, the whole country is essentially living with the strategy of the least effective states because states interconnect and one state not doing a good job will continue to spread the virus to other states,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told him. “States can’t wall themselves off.”

At 10 a.m. on Friday, IDPH reported another 2,901 Iowans, including 65 residents of Johnson County and 100 residents of Linn County, had tested positive for COVID-19 during the previous 24 hours. It was the third day in a row with more than 2,900 new cases.

The newly reported cases bring the total number of Iowans who have tested positive for the virus since March 8 to 239,693.

On Friday morning, IDPH was also reporting ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks in 135 long-term care facilities, as well as 1,000 confirmed cases of the virus among patients in Iowa hospitals. One hundred and twenty-three of those hospitalized patients had been admitted within the previous 24 hours, and 209 of them were being treated in intensive care units.

Among the record-setting number of deaths reported by IDPH on Friday was the first COVID-19 death in Worth County. Prior to Friday, Worth had been only one of two counties that had not yet reported any deaths from the virus.

As of Friday morning, Decatur County was the only one of Iowa’s 99 counties that had not yet reported a death from COVID-19.


[gravityform id="17" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
<div class='gf_browser_unknown gform_wrapper your-village-form_wrapper' id='gform_wrapper_17' ><a id='gf_17' class='gform_anchor' ></a><form method='post' enctype='multipart/form-data' target='gform_ajax_frame_17' id='gform_17' class='your-village-form' action='/covid-19-iowa-sets-another-record-for-deaths-has-a-third-straight-day-of-almost-3000-new-cases/#gf_17'> <div class='gform_body'><ul id='gform_fields_17' class='gform_fields top_label form_sublabel_below description_below'><li id='field_17_7' class='gfield gfield_html gfield_html_formatted gfield_no_follows_desc field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><h3 style="font-weight:800; font-size:34px;">Let's get started</h3> <p style="font-size:18px;">Fill out this form and we'll contact you with information about marketing with Little Village!</p></li><li id='field_17_4' class='gfield field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label gfield_label_before_complex' for='input_17_4_3' ></label><div class='ginput_complex ginput_container no_prefix has_first_name no_middle_name has_last_name no_suffix gf_name_has_2 ginput_container_name gfield_trigger_change' id='input_17_4'> <span id='input_17_4_3_container' class='name_first' > <input type='text' name='input_4.3' id='input_17_4_3' value='' aria-label='First name' tabindex='2' aria-invalid="false" placeholder='First name'/> <label for='input_17_4_3' >First</label> </span> <span id='input_17_4_6_container' class='name_last' > <input type='text' name='input_4.6' id='input_17_4_6' value='' aria-label='Last name' tabindex='4' aria-invalid="false" placeholder='Last name'/> <label for='input_17_4_6' >Last</label> </span> </div></li><li id='field_17_5' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_5' ><span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_text'><input name='input_5' id='input_17_5' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='6' placeholder='Company name' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false" /></div></li><li id='field_17_3' class='gfield gfield_contains_required field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_visible' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_3' ><span class='gfield_required'>*</span></label><div class='ginput_container ginput_container_email'> <input name='input_3' id='input_17_3' type='text' value='' class='large' tabindex='7' placeholder='Your email address' aria-required="true" aria-invalid="false"/> </div></li><li id='field_17_8' class='gfield gform_validation_container field_sublabel_below field_description_below gfield_visibility_' ><label class='gfield_label' for='input_17_8' >Email</label><div class='ginput_container'><input name='input_8' id='input_17_8' type='text' value='' /></div><div class='gfield_description'>This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.</div></li> </ul></div> <div class='gform_footer top_label'> <input type='submit' id='gform_submit_button_17' class='gform_button button' value='SUBMIT' tabindex='8' onclick='if(window["gf_submitting_17"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_17"]=true; ' onkeypress='if( event.keyCode == 13 ){ if(window["gf_submitting_17"]){return false;} window["gf_submitting_17"]=true; jQuery("#gform_17").trigger("submit",[true]); }' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_ajax' value='form_id=17&amp;title=&amp;description=&amp;tabindex=1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='is_submit_17' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_submit' value='17' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_unique_id' value='' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='state_17' value='WyJbXSIsIjlmNzc1YTEyZmZjNmYyODk5Mzk0NDM3ZjRlOGYyZDNmIl0=' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_target_page_number_17' id='gform_target_page_number_17' value='0' /> <input type='hidden' class='gform_hidden' name='gform_source_page_number_17' id='gform_source_page_number_17' value='1' /> <input type='hidden' name='gform_field_values' value='' /> </div> <p style="display: none !important;"><label>&#916;<textarea name="ak_hp_textarea" cols="45" rows="8" maxlength="100"></textarea></label><input type="hidden" id="ak_js_1" name="ak_js" value="222"/><script>document.getElementById( "ak_js_1" ).setAttribute( "value", ( new Date() ).getTime() );</script></p></form> </div> <iframe style='display:none;width:0px;height:0px;' src='about:blank' name='gform_ajax_frame_17' id='gform_ajax_frame_17'>This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.</iframe> <script type='text/javascript'>jQuery(document).ready(function($){gformInitSpinner( 17, 'https://littlevillagemag.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery('#gform_ajax_frame_17').load( function(){var contents = jQuery(this).contents().find('*').html();var is_postback = contents.indexOf('GF_AJAX_POSTBACK') >= 0;if(!is_postback){return;}var form_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_wrapper_17');var is_confirmation = jQuery(this).contents().find('#gform_confirmation_wrapper_17').length > 0;var is_redirect = contents.indexOf('gformRedirect(){') >= 0;var is_form = form_content.length > 0 && ! is_redirect && ! is_confirmation;if(is_form){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').html(form_content.html());if(form_content.hasClass('gform_validation_error')){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').addClass('gform_validation_error');} else {jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').removeClass('gform_validation_error');}setTimeout( function() { /* delay the scroll by 50 milliseconds to fix a bug in chrome */ jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').offset().top); }, 50 );if(window['gformInitDatepicker']) {gformInitDatepicker();}if(window['gformInitPriceFields']) {gformInitPriceFields();}var current_page = jQuery('#gform_source_page_number_17').val();gformInitSpinner( 17, 'https://littlevillagemag.com/wp-content/plugins/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope/images/spinner.gif' );jQuery(document).trigger('gform_page_loaded', [17, current_page]);window['gf_submitting_17'] = false;}else if(!is_redirect){var confirmation_content = jQuery(this).contents().find('.GF_AJAX_POSTBACK').html();if(!confirmation_content){confirmation_content = contents;}setTimeout(function(){jQuery('#gform_wrapper_17').replaceWith(confirmation_content);jQuery(document).scrollTop(jQuery('#gf_17').offset().top);jQuery(document).trigger('gform_confirmation_loaded', [17]);window['gf_submitting_17'] = false;}, 50);}else{jQuery('#gform_17').append(contents);if(window['gformRedirect']) {gformRedirect();}}jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [17, current_page]);} );} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> if(typeof gf_global == 'undefined') var gf_global = {"gf_currency_config":{"name":"U.S. Dollar","symbol_left":"$","symbol_right":"","symbol_padding":"","thousand_separator":",","decimal_separator":".","decimals":2},"base_url":"https:\/\/littlevillagemag.com\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope","number_formats":[],"spinnerUrl":"https:\/\/littlevillagemag.com\/wp-content\/plugins\/gravityforms-asdf111aasdfffs-nope\/images\/spinner.gif"};jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_render', function(event, formId, currentPage){if(formId == 17) {if(typeof Placeholders != 'undefined'){ Placeholders.enable(); }} } );jQuery(document).bind('gform_post_conditional_logic', function(event, formId, fields, isInit){} );</script><script type='text/javascript'> jQuery(document).ready(function(){jQuery(document).trigger('gform_post_render', [17, 1]) } ); </script>