Common Good Iowa


Feb. 22, 2021

An eye on the data: Key numbers during the COVID-19 crisis in Iowa

COVID-19 deaths and total positive cases in Iowa are still rising at a pace slower than the peak in November in the pandemic that reached the state nearly a year ago.

As of Monday, deaths stood at 5,374 and positive cases at 360,189. It remains to be seen if a second strain of the virus that is reported to have reached the state will spread as rapidly as the first round that peaked in November. Governor Kim Reynolds has removed nearly all of the limited mask and social distancing requirements that she had implemented in those early months.

Delays in death and positive case reports have hindered a clear look at the pace of COVID-19 in Iowa. The day-by-day positive case report sheet on the state website Monday night provided a total that differed significantly from the stated overall count of 360,189 posted before midnight.

Trouble continues, meanwhile, for Iowa workers and the Iowa economy. In the unemployment claims report issued Thursday (Feb. 11) for the week ending Feb. 6, Iowa Workforce Development reported initial claims of 6,320 — bringing the 55-week total during the current recession to over 591,000. (See the summary below.).

The COVID-19 health data below are from IDPH, most reflecting data released by Monday at 11:30 p.m. The counts for positive cases typically change around the clock as new information is gathered, with updates to previously reported data. Death count updates now are usually provided once a day, in the morning. The IDPH dashboard is found here.

The dark line in the next graph shows fluctuations in the daily number of new cases, while the shaded area shows the one-week rolling average throughout the pandemic in Iowa. These figures from Feb. 11 will be updated.

COVID cases statewide
The daily average in positive tests has risen steadily in Iowa to a persistently high level well above those for the early months of the pandemic, with the peak coming during November average.

As with positive cases, the death counts peaked in Iowa in November. The totals by month, which are frequently revised especially for the two most recent months, are in the following chart.

COVID cases statewide
Ninety-four counties have reached double digits in deaths to COVID-19. Eight counties have had at least 100 deaths: Dubuque, Linn, Black Hawk, Scott, Woodbury, Pottawattamie, Wapello and Polk. Besides Polk, at 542, Linn County has reached 300, Black Hawk is getting close, and Woodbury also is above 200.


Economic Impacts
New unemployment claims show jobless Iowans need greater protection

The state of Iowa saw another difficult week in initial unemployment claims for the week ending Feb. 13. Iowa recorded 6,320 new claims, up from a revised 6,120 in new unemployment claims for the previous week.

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. Recent weeks have been an exception to that trend. In the last 48 weeks, claims have been 574,640 — or 97 percent — of the total of 591,645 over the 55 weeks of this recession. The magnitude of this recession can be understood by the observation that the average increase in initial claims has been 10,757 — higher than for every week but four during the same 55 weeks of the Great Recession (note the orange bars in the graph below, only four rising above 10,000).

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