Iowa is no longer reporting COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes and other data, even as cases have been increasing.
As of Wednesday, July 7, 2021, the state’s coronavirus dashboard eliminated long-term care facility tracking, as well as Test Iowa assessments, serology, occupation data and underlying conditions.
The Iowa Department of Public Health has cited its transition to COVID-19 pandemic recovery and its goal of entirely eliminating public reporting on the data website by late summer.
Other states have also reduced data reporting frequency, the department noted, adding that Iowa will eventually decommission the coronavirus website and issue weekly reports, similar to its flu reports.
The change coincides with an uptick in nursing home outbreaks — two as of the last report on July 7 — and other increasing cases.
Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown, with nine confirmed cases, and Marian Home senior living facility in Fort Dodge, with five confirmed cases, were the final two outbreaks reported to the public through the coronavirus website.
Given that the majority of Iowa seniors have been fully vaccinated, the numbers painted a picture of the nursing home outbreaks that will no longer be revealed on the public website.
Twenty-one percent of confirmed cases were ages 18 to 49; most likely staff, while half of the confirmed cases were reported in those ages 70 and older; likely residents. Another 28 percent of confirmed cases were between the ages of 50 to 69.
Iowa does not require staff at long-term care facilities to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, even though more than a third of the state’s deaths — 2,373 nursing home residents of 6,148 Iowa’s total deaths as of the last report — have been tied to such outbreaks.
Health experts have cited the likelihood that outbreaks will continue as the virus mutates among people who are not vaccinated, putting others at risk with the new variants.
Iowa’s COVID-19 hospitalization numbers also have been on the rise.
The state reported 85 hospitalizations on July 7, up from 76 the previous 24 hours, with 25 patients in intensive care units, up from 24 the previous day, and 12 newly admitted, compared to eight the day before. Additionally, 13 patients were on ventilators in Iowa, up from 12 the previous 24 hours.
The last Test Iowa data before that category was eliminated showed more than 2.1 million assessments had been conducted since the program was introduced in April 2020 through a no-bid contract with an out-of-state firm.
Most Test Iowa sites have closed, with the final sites scheduled to end on July 16.
Iowa’s serology reports have shown a fairly steady 19 percent positivity rate for months.
The last report on July 7 noted 104,238 negative tests out of 128,525 total serology tests, with 24,237 positive cases.