White House Coronavirus Task Force: ‘All indicators of community spread are increasing’ in Iowa

Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Iowa continues to be in the red zone for the rate of new cases of COVID-19, according to the most recent report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The report, sent to the states on Sunday, was obtained by ABC News, which published it on Wednesday.

Iowa ranked 10th among all the states in the rate of new cases last week, according to the task force. That’s an improvement over the previous report, issued on Oct. 18, when Iowa ranked eighth in the rate of new cases. But that improvement isn’t because Iowa is doing better, it’s because the virus spread in other states is increasing even faster.

In the Oct. 18 report, Iowa had 238 new cases per 100,000 residents, while the national average was 117 new cases per 100,000 residents. In the newest report, both sets of numbers have increased: Iowa had 254 new cases per 100,000 residents last week and the national average increased to 133 per 100,000.

According to the task force, 97 percent of Iowa’s counties have “moderate or high level of community transmission,” up from 90 percent in the last report.

“All indicators of community spread are increasing, including percent of nursing homes with positive staff members and residents, and community spread is increasing hospital admissions, leading to potential resource constraints,” the new report said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported another record number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients on Wednesday morning, with 596 confirmed cases among patients in Iowa hospitals. The state has broken its record for hospitalized COVID-19 patients three times since the task force report was sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office on Sunday.

Of the 596 patients, 113 were admitted during the previous 24 hours, another new record for the state. One hundred and thirty-six of the patients were being treated in intensive care units.

At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, IDPH was reporting a total of 119,444 Iowans had tested positive for COVID-19 since the virus was first detected in the state on March 8. That is an increase of 1,814 since 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Among the new positives were 40 residents of Johnson County and 114 residents of Linn County.

During that same 24-hour period, IDPH reported another 22 Iowans died from COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll from the virus to 1,680.

On Tuesday night, Gov. Reynolds’ office finally released her official schedule of activities for the week. Once again, the governor will not be holding a news conference to update Iowans on the state’s response to COVID-19. On July 30, Reynolds announced she would hold two such news conferences every week. She only made good on that commitment twice, holding two new conferences during the first and second weeks of August.

Reynolds has only held one COVID-19 news conference this month, on Oct. 7.

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