Iowa City mask mandate extended, as state reports more than 10,000 new COVID cases and 81 deaths

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

Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague issued an order on Wednesday extending the city’s mask mandate that has been in place since Aug. 19. The new order doesn’t have an expiration date as the previous one did and “shall remain in effect until it is rescinded.”

When he first issued the mandate, the mayor explained, “The Delta variant has reached our community, and as the number of positive cases continue to grow, we are now also faced with an influx of students arriving in our community from around the world, as well as the beginning of a new school year for our local youth.”

Teague told the Gazette’s Izabela Zaluska he ordered the mask mandate extension because of the high rate of virus spread.

“Iowa City is still on high risk alert,” the mayor said. “I don’t feel that now is the time to change the requirement. … At some point we will turn the corner.”

A few hours before Teague extended the mask mandate, the Iowa Department of Public Health published its weekly update on COVID-19.

For the third week in a row, IDPH reported more than 10,000 newly confirmed cases, with 10,812 Iowans testing positive for the virus over the previous seven days. Although that rate of new cases in a single week is still among the highest the state has seen since January, it is a decline from the 12,163 new cases IDPH reported in its previous update.

IDPH number of new COVID-19 cases by age group, Sept. 29, 2021.

For the fourth week in a row, children made up the largest percentage of new cases in IDPH’s breakdown of cases by age. Iowans under 18 accounted for 24 percent of the total number of new cases

IDPH confirmed another 81 deaths from the virus in its Wednesday update. The newly reported deaths brought the state’s official COVID-19 death toll to 6,563.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients slightly declined from last week’s total of 638, which was the highest number of hospitalized patients so far this year. According to IDPH, there were 624 Iowans hospitalized with the virus. The number of available ICU beds also declined from 182 beds in the previous update to 163 this week. That is the lowest number of available ICU beds in the state since the pandemic began.

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