On Saturday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 648 more Iowans have tested positive for COVID-19, breaking the one-day record of newly reported cases set on Friday. This brings the state’s total number of confirmed cases of the virus to 5,092.
New cases include 28 residents of Johnson County and 39 residents of Linn County. IDPH also reported another resident of Johnson County has died from the virus, bringing the county’s total number of deaths to four.
Newly reported deaths by county
• Black Hawk County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)
• Johnson County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
• Polk County, 1 older adult (61-80 years), 1 elderly adult (81+)
• Scott County, 1 elderly adult (81+)
The state’s total number of COVID-19 death is now 112, according to IDPH. Thirty-three of the deceased were residents of Linn County.
Another meat processing plant reports COVID-19 cases
The surge in reported cases during the last week was driven by the state conducting more testing for the virus, especially at long-term care facilities and meat processing plants, according to Gov. Reynolds.
Cases of COVID-19 have now been reported at half of the state’s 18 meat processing plants. The ninth plant to report workers infected with the virus was West Liberty Foods in Muscatine County.
The company said in a Friday tweet that a total of 52 workers at its West Liberty plant have tested positive for COVID-19 so far. According to the company, the first cases at the plant were diagnosed earlier this month. West Liberty Foods also tweeted it would begin publicly reporting the number of cases at its plants in Iowa and Illinois on social media.
As of 4/24/2020: The total cases at each location is as follows:
West Liberty: 52
Mount Pleasant: 0
Liberty Cold: 0
— West Liberty Foods (@westlibfoods) April 24, 2020
The plant was closed for the weekend for intensive cleaning. West Liberty Foods said it has closed its plant for intensive cleaning on two previous occasions in April, after workers tested positive.
Iowa Veterans Home resident tests positive
A resident of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown has tested positive for COVID-19, the Gazette reported on Saturday. It is the first reported case of the virus among residents of the state-run care facility. According to Joe Hoagbin, the home’s medical director, the resident was only experiencing mild symptoms, and has been transferred to the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Des Moines.
On April 7, the Iowa Veterans Home disclosed that three staff members had tested positive for COVID-19.
Hoagbin told the Gazette the Iowa Veterans Home now has a its own COVID-19 testing machine, and will begin testing its staff.
Oakdale Prison reports another case
According to the Iowa Department of Correction’s COVID-19 information page, another inmate has tested positive for COVID-19 at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville, better known as Oakdale Prison, bringing the total number of confirmed cases among inmates at the prison to 13. Three staff members at Oakdale have also tested positive.
IDOC announced on April 22 it was beginning an extensive testing program at the prison.
Although Oakdale is the only prison in Iowa that has reported cases of COVID-19, there have also been cases in IDOC’s community-based corrections program, which supervises a range of people convicted of crimes, including those on probation, parole and work release.
During the governor’s press conference on Monday, IDOC Director Beth Skinner said 10 people under supervision in the program have tested positive for COVID-19, as have four staff members.
The shifting peak
The rising number of confirmed cases in the state has led IDPH to revise its estimate of the virus’s peak in Iowa, moving it from the end of April to sometime “in the next two to three weeks,” Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter said at the governor’s press conference on Friday.
On March 29, Reisetter also said IDPH was predicting Iowa’s peak “in the next two to three weeks.”
IDPH signed a contract on April 7 with the University of Iowa College of Public Health for its experts to produce models predicting the spread and severity of COVID-19 in Iowa. As of April 13, the department had not yet provided the College of Public Health with the data necessary to create the models.
At the governor’s press conference on Thursday, IDPH Medical Director Dr. Caitlan Pedati was asked what the department’s models were showing now that testing was becoming more widespread.
“We’re still working on putting together some Iowa-specific numbers, and when we have that we’ll be making it available,” Pedati said.