COVID-19 illustration

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.

Iowa saw another 1,104 new cases of the coronavirus reported Wednesday, as the state’s governor said the recent decrease in new cases is not due to lower testing.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported another 3,758 individuals were tested between Tuesday and Wednesday. Gov. Kim Reynolds said recent testing numbers are on par with what were once record highs seen in October.

Nevertheless, several data analysis show Iowa’s testing numbers are near the bottom when adjusted for capita. The Washington Post reported that in the last week, Iowa ranked 50th in tests per 100,000 people. The state has tested at a rate lower than Guam and the Virgin Islands, according to its analysis.

Reynolds said, however, the state’s decline in testing is due simply to demand and isn’t the cause of the decline in cases.

“Our testing level now is consistent with that from October and early November, which was an all-time high at that point, until demand for testing rapidly rose to record levels during the height of the surge,” Reynolds said. “So, it’s not surprising that it would return to a more stable level now, or that levels could fluctuate a little bit from week to week.”

Instead, Reynolds said the progress is real, and she attributes it to Iowans doing their part.

“Iowans realized the seriousness of the situation and the importance of being a part of the solution to overcome it and sustain it,” Reynolds said. All the mitigation strategies have played a role in the declining spread, Reynolds said during a Wednesday press conference.

In Wednesday’s new data, Wapello County added 10 more cases of the coronavirus, while there were two more in Monroe, two in Van Buren, one in Appanoose and one in Davis.

There were eight new deaths reported statewide, which occurred between Dec. 28 and Jan. 25, but none of the new deaths were in the Courier’s coverage area.

While active cases across the state trended down, Wapello remained at 391 active cases, according to state data.

The 14-day positivity rate in Iowa was 10.2%, down slightly from the prior day. Once the location of the state’s highest positivity rate, the small county of Monroe has dipped to 8.5%, its lowest level since early October.

Statewide, there were 408 hospitalized with COVID-19 and 81 in an intensive care unit — both numbers relatively flat from the prior day.

“Daily hospitalizations admissions also continue to decrease, which could be attributed in part to more physicians and patients opting for the monoclonal antibody treatment following a COVID-19 diagnosis,” Reynolds said.

Vaccinations continue to roll out as Iowa has now had 40,331 of its citizens receive both shots required to be effective. There have been 128,913 receive the first dose.

Iowa is set to see its allocation from the federal government of the vaccine increase by 16% beginning next week. That’s about 6,300 more doses per week.

Additionally, the new single-shot vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson could receive emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration next month.

Still, less than 2% of Iowa’s citizens are vaccinated.

“Even with the positive news … I just want to remind Iowans that the vaccine supply will still remain limited for quite some time,” Reynolds said. “But despite that challenge, we are making good progress in our efforts to vaccinate as many Iowans as possible.”

Counties are beginning to move into the next phase of vaccinations, which allows for those above the age of 65 years old and those working in several industries to begin receiving vaccines. The careers eligible in the next phase include first responders and public safety officials, school teachers and staff, manufacturing workers and correctional facility staff.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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