Iowa had experienced an uptick in COVID-19 hospitalizations even before Donald Trump appeared before a crowd of many maskless supporters Oct. 14 at the Des Moines International Airport and is now reaching new highs.
The state, where Gov. Kim Reynolds has never implemented a face mask mandate in spite of health experts’ recommendations, has now surpassed 1,500 coronavirus deaths, with 1,505 reported as of 10 a.m. Oct. 15.
At the same time, 482 Iowans were reported hospitalized with COVID-19, a new record that topped previous highs the past two days of 463 and 473 hospitalizations from the virus. Of those, 107 were in the intensive care unit, following a string of plus-100 patients in the ICU for nearly two weeks.
On Monday, Iowa surpassed 100,000 positive cases of COVID-19, now at 103,222 reported cases, just days later.
Additionally, after dipping to a low of 22 coronavirus outbreaks at Iowa nursing homes in early August, new records in outbreaks also have been set this week, with 61 reported as of Oct. 15.
That number is particularly concerning, as more than half — 757 of the state’s 1,505 deaths — have been tied to outbreaks at long-term care facilities.
Reynolds, who appeared at Trump’s campaign rally in Des Moines, has repeatedly stressed that she trusts Iowans to “do the right thing” to curb the spread of the virus.
Iowa’s reported COVID-19 deaths include Jennifer Crawford, a West Des Moines educator at Indian Hills Junior High, who died Oct. 3 at age 53.
Her family stated Crawford took all of the recommended precautions, but she was exposed to the virus at school. Reynolds has required schools to be open at least half of the time to in-person instruction. Those in counties that record a two-week positivity average of 15 percent or greater can request a waiver.
As of Oct. 15, 19 of Iowa’s 99 counties reported a 15 percent or greater positivity average, with Sioux County in western Iowa topping the list at 26.4 percent.