Common Good Iowa


August 3, 2022

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

Death reports for recent weeks from COVID-19 in Iowa jumped in the latest reports from the state, as positive COVID-19 test reports remained well ahead of where they were in March and April.

The spread of the virus and its variants has declined from its strong levels at the end of 2021 and early 2022. However, COVID-19 deaths in Iowa have continued to rise and have reached 9,817 since the state’s first pandemic death was reported (March 24, 2020). The one-week increase of 35 death reports includes 28 new reports for the month of July but none in the last week, so the July number may yet rise as new reports are received.

The latest reports show positive tests at 936,991 with the latest reports as of Aug. 2, 2022. Those latest numbers are likely to be conservative due to delays in reports to, and by, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), and may not reflect all cases for Iowans who tested positive at home.

Governor Kim Reynolds has signed legislation to ban COVID-19 vaccine requirements in public and private schools including universities and colleges in her latest action to prevent public initiatives to protect the public from impacts of the spread of the virus.

The Governor rejected and blocked new public policy initiatives even as infections picked up in 2021, particularly among unvaccinated Iowans. The Legislature passed and the Governor signed, on the final day and night of the 2021 regular legislative session, a ban on any locally ordered vaccine or mask mandates in local schools or by cities and counties on local businesses. Besides rejecting vaccine or masking mandates, she supported court action to block federal policy moves designed to thwart the spread of the virus and its variants.

Over the many months of the pandemic, delays in death and positive case reports — as well as recent changes in the number used to report individual positive tests — have hindered a consistently clear look at the pace of COVID-19 in Iowa. The state also scaled back its reporting with the Governor's directive ending the emergency declaration as of Feb. 16.

The COVID-19 health data below reflect reports compiled by IDPH as of Tuesday, Aug. 2, unless noted. The IDPH dashboard now is found here.

The dark line in the next graph shows fluctuations in the daily number of new positive tests, while the shaded area shows the one-week rolling daily average throughout the pandemic in Iowa. The high averages through the fall of 2021 and into 2022 illustrate how the virus quickly spread, following several weeks at levels similar to what Iowa is seeing now.

Iowa COVID positive tests by day

Death counts peaked in Iowa in November 2020, reaching 1,511 for that month, but after dropping off through the spring and summer, they were near or above 400 a month from September through February, reaching above 600 in December and January. The typical lag in death reports may indicate the recent counts are understated.

Iowa COVID deaths month by month

Every county in the state has felt the impact of the pandemic, with all 99 counties reaching double digits in deaths, and 21 now at 100 or above. Polk County has had 1,135 deaths, with Linn County next at 604 and Black Hawk at 495. Scott County has passed 400, with Woodbury, Pottawattamie and Dubuque counties above 300.

COVID deaths by county, Iowa
The pace of vaccinations has clearly stalled among working-age Iowans, with the percentage in each age group holding steady each of the last two weeks and changing little since Dec. 1. As vaccinations have become available since April last year, middle-age and senior Iowans took more opportunities to be vaccinated. However, fewer two-thirds of Iowans under age 50 have received one of the COVID-19 vaccines, according to the latest data from IDPH.

As shown in the graph below there has been very little movement in the share vaccinated in all age groups, other than the age 5-11 category, since what was reported seven months ago. The green-shaded areas of the bars below show the change in the share vaccinated since Dec. 1, when the virus was on the rise with the omicron variant, peaking in January.

COVID vaccinations by age group, Iowa


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