At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported another 47 deaths from COVID-19, the highest total the department has recorded during a 24-hour period. The previous one-day record number for reported COVID-19 deaths happened one week ago, when IDPH reported 40 deaths on Nov. 18.
The newly reported deaths increased Iowa’s death toll from the virus to 2,271. Since Nov. 1, IDPH has reported 555 deaths due to COVID-19, which is almost a quarter of the total number of Iowans who have succumbed to the virus, according to IDPH.
Among the deceased reported on Wednesday was a resident of Linn County. Since IDPH reported the first death in the county on March 29, a total of 162 residents of Linn County have died. Thirty-five Johnson County residents have died from the virus, since its first COVID-19 death was reported on April 5.
IDPH also reported at 10 a.m. on Wednesday that another 3,365 Iowans had tested positive for the virus since 10 a.m. on Tuesday. That number included 183 residents of Linn County and 86 residents of Johnson County.
The numbers for outbreaks in long-term care facilities and hospitalized COVID-19 patients remained high on Wednesday.
At 10 a.m., IDPH had 149 nursing homes on its list of long-term care facilities with ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19. That is one fewer than the record high of 150 facilities IDPH listed on Tuesday. The department considers an outbreak to be over if a facility goes for 28 days without reporting new cases of the virus.
IDPH reported 1,305 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 on Wednesday morning, 198 of whom had been admitted within the previous 24 hours. Two hundred and sixty-nine COVID-19 patients were being treated in intensive care units.
At her news conference on Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds noted that the increase in travel and number of gatherings of people not belonging to the same household for the Thanksgiving holiday is likely to result in a spike of new COVID-19 case next month, which she said is “something we cannot risk at this time.”
“I still believe that together we can keep the numbers trending in the right direction,” Reynolds said, before offering some advice on how to limit the spread of the virus.
“While traveling keep hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and extra masks with you,” she said. “Wear a mask and social distance when you are in close proximity to others not from your household. And of course, wash your hands frequently.”
Reynolds said she would continue to monitor virus activity in the state, but did not have any immediate plans to introduce new mitigation measures.
The governor said “you have to careful about over-mitigating,” which may lead to people feeling like they’re not “part of the answer, the solution” and contribute to pandemic fatigue. As she often does, Reynolds pointed out that states that had taken more steps than Iowa has are experiencing an increase virus activity.
“I think we lose sight of that sometimes, you want to focus on what’s going on in Iowa, but we’re actually seeing this across the country,” the governor said. “And we’re seeing states that have significant mitigation effort in place the entire time—the entire time—haven’t even opened up or given any business or anything any sense of relief.”
The only state Reynolds singled out by name was California. Reynolds is correct that California imposed some of the strictest virus mitigation steps in the first months of the pandemic, but is wrong that the state didn’t allow businesses to reopen, although in recent weeks the state and local governments in California have begun to reimpose restrictions they had relaxed, because virus activity has begun to increase.
What Reynolds didn’t mention at her news conference is that California is having much more success than Iowa in limiting the spread of COVID-19.
According to the New York Times analysis of COVID-19 data from all the states and U.S. territories, Iowa ranked sixth in terms of new cases on Wednesday, with a daily average of 111.3 per 100,000 residents over the previous seven days. California ranked 40th, with a seven-day average of 34.3 new cases per 100,000 residents.