Common Good Iowa

An eye on the data: Key numbers during crisis

Posted on November 24, 2020 at 12:00 AM by Mike Owen

Nearly 215,000 Iowans have been confirmed with the coronavirus in the COVID-19 pandemic, which is claiming both lives and livelihoods at a rapid pace in Iowa.

Along with the daunting health damage, including total deaths now over 2,200, a half-million Iowans have now claimed unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 recession.

The unprecedented pace of the spread of the virus in Iowa — which caused Governor Kim Reynolds to step up some mitigation measures a week ago — is over 3,600 per day in November. In fact, the latest state reports show Iowa hit a record 7,272 cases in one day (Nov. 9), one of six days at or above the 5,000 mark.

Official data posted by midnight Monday boosted the death count to 2,222, and new reports of positive cases put that count for the pandemic at 214,792 with reports still coming in.

The new numbers from one day to the next actually reflect very little about change in the most recent 24 hours. That is because information about new cases and deaths are gathered and confirmed by the state over several days. Most of the increases in the total count show changes from previous days, sometimes from weeks past.

Still, the trends are daunting. Deaths have risen each day since Oct. 7 at a double-digit pace, using a seven-day rolling average. And positive cases continue to post big increases. The average of 3,694 a day in November is far higher than the previous high of 1,354 per day in October.

Contrary to national media reports, increased policy steps announced Monday by the governor still are short of a general mask mandate, let alone shelter-in-place orders implemented in some states. The governor ordered that masks must be required in certain indoor settings, prohibiting some social gatherings of more than 15 people inside and 30 people outside. She also limited hours for bars and restaurants and prohibited youth sports activities, but not high school, college or professional sports events.

Trouble continues, meanwhile, for Iowa workers and the Iowa economy. In the latest unemployment claims report issued last Thursday by Iowa Workforce Development and the U.S. Department of Labor, claims were 6,312 for the week ending Nov. 14. (See the summary below.)

COVID cases statewide

The daily average in positive tests has risen steadily in Iowa, and has been at its highest levels the last two months — at 1,354 per day for October, and at 3,694 so far in November. The November average is likely much higher because, at recent trends, data reported so far for some recent days are likely understated.

Four Iowa counties have had over 100 deaths during the pandemic, with Polk County the highest at 324. All but three of Iowa’s 99 counties have had at least one death attributed to COVID-19. Fifty-four counties are in double digits. Counties with the latest updates in the map below have total death counts in gold.


While Iowans thrown out of work wait for Congress to address unemployment insurance during the current emergency, the state recorded 6,312 new unemployment claims in the week ending Nov. 7. The latest report included a downward revision for the previous week, from 5,576 to 5,217.

Analysis throughout the pandemic has shown that through most of this recession, the initial claims number has been well above the level at similar points during the Great Recession. In the last 35 weeks, claims have been 484,553 — or 97 percent — of the total of 501,558 over the 42 weeks of this recession. The magnitude of this recession can be understood by the observation that the average increase in initial claims has been 11,942 — higher on average than for all but one week during the same 42 weeks of the Great Recession.

Categories: Covid-19

Tagged As: Data

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