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Iowa's COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rapidly trend downwards

Health officials are asking Iowans who test positive for COVID-19 using an at-home rapid test to report results to their local health department.
Cedrik Wesche
New COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are continuing to decline as the state prepares to decommission its two public websites dedicated to the pandemic.

Iowa health officials reported Wednesday that COVID-19 hospitalizations and test positivity rates continue to trend downwards.

For the third week in a row, COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped.

Officials reported that 617 Iowans are currently hospitalized with the virus, down from 794 last week.

Hospitalizations peaked at nearly one thousand in mid-January, driven by the highly-infectious omicron variant.

The 14-day test positivity rate was reported at 15.9 percent - marking another significant drop from last week’s rate 21.5 percent.

Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation said his institute predicts cases and hospitalizations will decline through this fall.

"Between vaccines and infections, many of us 80 to 90 percent have immunity right now against COVID-19, which puts us in a very good place," he said.

But Mokdad said people still need to take precautions, especially around unvaccinated children or immunocompromised individuals.

"We need to be very responsible moving forward, living with this virus means being very cautious, and living, keeping in mind that we're not alone here. We have a responsibility for others who are around us," he said.

This downward trend continues as the state prepares to decommission its two coronavirus websites, including a site that updates pandemic-related data several times a week.

Mokdad called removing this public facing data website a "wrong and deadly move."

If you want to change your mandate, you need to have the data," he said. "So you need to tell the public, 'I'm keeping an eye on the data... This is an alert, we need to reverse some of our actions.' But if you drop [the website] now, people will not listen to you."

Mokdad said having transparent data to back up public health recommendations is key to gaining the public’s trust.

As hospitalizations and new infection rates trend downwards, state officials also confirmed in the past week an additional 172 deaths from the virus, bringing the state’s total death count to 8,829.

According to state data, 57.4 percent of all Iowans are fully vaccinated against the virus.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter