Iowa’s COVID hospitalizations drop sharply; reported cases decrease again

The number of people infected with COVID-19 receiving inpatient treatment at Iowa hospitals fell 24% last week, according to federal data.

This marks a significant turnaround from recent weeks, but there were similar downturns this summer that were quickly erased as hospitalizations rose overall since April.

People hospitalized with the coronavirus numbered 244 on Wednesday, up from 323 a week ago. Of those currently receiving hospital treatment, 27 were in intensive care, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

On Wednesday, state health officials reported 4,921 new coronavirus cases for the past week in their weekly report. This is the third week in a row that new reported cases have declined since hitting a relative peak for the summer, and they are down about 17% from that peak.

These numbers do not include infections identified only by rapid home tests, which are widely available and not recorded by the state.

The Iowa Department of Public Health also reported 32 new COVID-related deaths on Wednesday, a number comparable to previous weeks. It is not known when these deaths occurred. The death toll from the virus in the state is now 9,882 people.

The areas most at risk of infection are primarily in the northern half of the state, according to the latest report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC ranks low, middle, or high counties based on per capita hospitalization and infection rates.

A third of counties in the state were rated “high” in this report, and about a quarter were “low,” including Polk County.