Visitors enjoy the attractions during the Iowa State Fair in 2018. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

A late-night posting of Iowa’s COVID-19 hospitalization data shows numbers skyrocketing just as the state’s biggest event of the year kicks off.

The Iowa State Fair, which runs Aug. 12-22, 2021, has attracted more than 1 million visitors in recent years, with the exception of 2020, when it was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Related: Iowa State Fair on hold

The fair’s website notes that “all safety precautions will be followed per CDC guidelines,” but added that no capacity limits are currently in place for buildings or other locations.

“Please stay home if you are sick, experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or have been recently exposed to COVID-19,” the website states. “Additional hand sanitizer and hand washing stations will be available. Restrooms and high touch areas will be cleaned regularly. Please practice distancing when possible. Per current CDC guidelines, masks are recommended indoors. We will have a limited number of masks available throughout the grounds while supplies last.”

Iowa eliminated daily coronavirus reporting in July, with weekly data released on Wednesdays. The Aug. 11 hospitalization report, however, wasn’t released until late in the night.

The report showed 355 patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 — an increase of 141 patients in the past week alone — with 103 of those in intensive care units, 62 admitted in the past 24 hours and 49 on ventilators.

That compares to approximately one month ago, in the July 14 weekly report, when 80 patients were hospitalized; 26 in the ICU; 16 newly admitted and 14 on ventilators.

In that time span, 52 more Iowans have been reported to have died of COVID-19, with 6,158 reported as of July 14, and 6,210 as of Aug. 11. Death reports generally have a lag due to the state’s reporting method.

With vaccine widely available, as of the end of June, Iowa, and the rest of the country appeared to be turning a corner in the pandemic.

As of June 30, 70 patients were hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state, with 21 in the ICU, 12 newly admitted and just nine on ventilators.

Public health experts say the more contagious delta variant of the virus has led to an increase in cases, particularly among the unvaccinated.

As of Aug. 11, 2021, 50.3 percent of the total U.S. population was fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, compared to 47.6 percent of Iowans on the same date.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has never imposed a mask mandate for the state.

Take a look back at a pre-pandemic year of the fair: A Day at the Iowa State Fair

A crowd gathers inside the grandstand during the 2018 Iowa State Fair. (photo/Cindy Hadish)