© 2024 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The omicron surge has begun in Iowa

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Over the last several weeks we’ve been watching the omicron variant of COVID-19 create unprecedented levels of disease in different parts of the country and world. Iowa already had fairly high levels of COVID-19 because of the delta variant. Now, the omicron surge is underway in the state.

Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported more than 20,000 positive COVID-19 tests in the last seven days. Hospitalizations are also rising, with nearly 800 Iowans hospitalized. More than 8,000 Iowans have died of COVID-19 in the past 21 months and even though indicators show that the omicron variant tends to cause less severe illness than previous variants, tens of thousands of Iowans will get sick and many will die.

Only about 56 percent of all Iowans are fully vaccinated. Breakthrough infections are common with omicron. But vaccines, particularly for those who have been boosted, do provide significant protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Dr. Greg Cohen, a family physician in Chariton, joins Charity Nebbe to understand the state of the pandemic in a rural county and what he's seeing at his clinic. Then, IPR's Natalie Krebs gives us the latest updates from the Iowa Department of Public Health and a press conference held by the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. You'll also hear from Mike Beranek of the Iowa State Education Association about the state of Iowa's education system amid the rise in COVID-19 cases.

The program concludes with University of Iowa women's basketball coach Lisa Bluder, who helps us remember Christine Grant.


  • Dr. Greg Cohen, an osteopathic family physician practicing in Chariton
  • Natalie Krebs, IPR health reporter
  • Mike Beranek, president of the Iowa State Education Association
  • Lisa Bluder, head coach of the University of Iowa women's basketball team
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River