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Weekly State COVID-19 Numbers Indicate Community Spread Remains High

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics received its first shipment of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines on Dec. 14.
State health officials are reporting new COVID-19 infections are above 10,000 for the third week in a row as hospitalizations remain high.

State health officials are reporting for the third week in a row that newly confirmed COVID-19 cases once again topped 10,000.

On Wednesday, officials reported 10,812 new casesin the past week with 23.5 percent of new infections reported in kids 17 and under.

For the second week in a row, 81 additional Iowans were confirmed to have died from COVID-19, which brings the total death count to 6,563.

The state reported that 624 Iowans are currently hospitalized with the virus, which is a slight drop from 638 last week.

Iowa's coronavirus infection rates remain high, as other parts of the country are experiencing significant declines in new infections.

Dan Diekema, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, said the current spread has been driven by the reopening of schools without mask requirements where the majority of kids aren’t eligible to be vaccinated.

"You have a very vulnerable population," he said, "a lot of transmission that can happen, and then that transmission is carried over into the community when you have such a large percentage of your population that's unvaccinated."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 63.5 percent of Iowans 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

Some Iowa counties, such as Davis and Decatur, are reporting their vaccination rates are closer to 40 percent.

Diekema said the state's low vaccination rate is another factor in the spread of the virus.

"We have a large population of unvaccinated individuals in the state," he said. "In some parts of the state where county-level vaccination rates are really, really low. And so I think that's playing a role."

Diekema said he's encouraging all eligible Iowans to get vaccinated as soon as possible and recommends everyone wear masks in indoor public spaces.

According to the CDC, all 99 of Iowa's counties have high rates of community transmission.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter