Iowa has surpassed another grim milestone.
The Iowa Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported the state’s 10,000th death in which COVID-19 was either the underlying cause or a contributing factor. The state’s official death toll for the pandemic is now 10,051.
It comes despite a week-over-week decrease in new reported cases, and even as the US Department of Health and Human Services reported a small decline in the number of people hospitalized with the disease in Iowa.
The true death toll is likely higher; it takes the state health department time to verify and publicly report each COVID-19 death.
At a minimum, 1 of every 318 Iowans has died from COVID-19 complications.
More:10,000 COVID deaths in Iowa: ‘The numbers do not tell you about a human life’
COVID-19’s death toll now exceeds the populations of 26 Iowa counties. It’s greater than the population of Mount Pleasant or Grinnell.
And though the deaths have slowed since 2020 and 2021, more than 1,700 Iowans have died already from the virus in 2022.
The bulk of Iowa’s COVID-19 deaths occurred in two distinct surges: both in the late autumns and winters of the past two years.
The first surge began in earnest in October 2020 and peaked at the start of December 2020, with Iowa averaging more than 60 COVID-19 deaths a day.
The surge in 2021 began earlier, in August, and took longer to peak. When it did in late January 2022, the state was averaging 26 deaths per day.
The key difference? The availability of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as more experience and resources for treating the disease.
When vaccines first became available in the state on Dec. 14, 2020, about 1.4% of all positive COVID-19 tests resulted in deaths, according to data from the state health department.
Since September 2021 — when half of the state’s population had been fully vaccinated — that rate has dropped to 0.67%.
It’s still 1 death out of every 150 positive tests. People who are older or have underlying medical conditions are most at-risk of COVID-19 complications, as are people who are not fully vaccinated against the disease.
While it took Iowa nine months to reach a 50% vaccination rate, it still hasn’t reached a 60% rate more than a year later, according to the state health department.
What areas of Iowa have been hit the hardest?
A map of COVID-19 deaths for Iowa counties, when adjusted for population, shows no discernible pattern from one county to another.
But comparing that map to other demographic data suggests a few indicators for why COVID-19 has been deadlier in some counties than others.
One of those is the vaccination rate. While total deaths include those that occurred before vaccines became widely available, a correlation exists between the most-vaccinated counties and those with the lowest COVID-19 death rates.
A more noticeable trend is by age. Iowa’s two youngest counties, Story and Johnson, are also the two with the fewest deaths per 1,000 residents.
While the 57 deaths reported this week were high compared with recent weeks, COVID-19 hospitalizations in Iowa and new cases reported this week both went down.
There were 219 people hospitalized in the state with COVID-19, down from 232 last week. Of those, 19 required intensive care for COVID-19 complications, also a drop from seven days ago.
The state health department reported 2,908 new COVID-19 cases this week — about 415 per day. That’s down considerably from last week, when Iowa averaged about 587 cases per day.
This week’s count was the fewest cases reported in one week since the first week of May.
The latest COVID-19 numbers in Iowa
The latest data in Iowa since March 2020 for the pandemic, as of midnight Sept. 21, compared with one week earlier:
- Confirmed cases: 853,840, an increase of 2,908.
- Deaths: 10,051, an increase of 57.
Data on the state vaccination rate is now updated once a month on the state health department website. As of Sept. 5, 59.4% of Iowans were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
How many people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Iowa?
Note: Hospitalization data for COVID-19 is no longer available through the Iowa Department of Public Health. The data below is from the US Department of Health and Human Services.
- Hospitalizations: 219, down from 232 one week ago
- Patients in intensive care: 19, down from 21
Tim Webber is a data visualization specialist for the Register. Reach him at [email protected], 515-284-8532, and on Twitter at @HelloTimWebber.