Even as Iowa adds more information to its coronavirus “dashboard,” an anomaly continues with reporting the state’s deaths at long-term care facilities.
At her final televised coronavirus press conference June 18, 2020, Governor Kim Reynolds announced further plans to help Iowa’s economy recover from the pandemic, while being quick to point out that most Iowans who have died of COVID-19 had a preexisting condition.
As of 6 p.m. June 18, the state reported a total of 680 COVID-19 deaths and 24,861 confirmed cases.
“We know that nearly 70 percent of Iowans who have died of COVID-19 had a chronic health condition,” Reynolds said. “While every death is tragic and heartbreaking for the families who have lost a loved one, understanding these details about COVID-19 can help clearly identify populations at risk and target our efforts appropriately.”
If they hadn’t already, those targeted efforts should have long included nursing homes, where outbreaks were reported early in the pandemic.
New data about preexisting conditions, posted later in the day on Iowa’s coronavirus dashboard, showed while 472 of the Iowans who have died of COVID-19, or 69 percent, had a preexisting condition, 43 of those who died did not, and for the other 165 Iowans who died, it was unknown whether or not they had a preexisting condition.
The state doesn’t define preexisting conditions, but examples include chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, arthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD.
Of the 15,654 Iowans who have recovered from COVID-19, 4,984 had a preexisting condition, while 10,105 did not and 565 were unknown.
Additionally, case analysis showed the largest percentage of confirmed COVID-19 cases have been among Iowans aged 18 to 40, at 45 percent. Twelve percent overall of Iowans who tested positive have been asymptomatic, while 65 percent were symptomatic.
As of June 18, Iowa reported 34 outbreaks across the state at long-term care facilities, with 352 deaths. There have been discrepancies with the number of deaths reported at those facilities, however.
Iowa public health spokeswoman Amy McCoy said the actual number, as of June 17, was 370 deaths at long-term care facilities. The state that day reported 350 deaths at long-term care facilities. Deaths have been subtracted as those nursing homes are taken off the “outbreak” status after having 28 days with no new active COVID-19 cases, she noted.
“We continue to look at updating the system so it doesn’t pull off the death information as well when a facility is removed,” McCoy wrote in an email. “It’s a programming need that is in front of the team.”