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Iowa COVID cases still flat; hospitalizations jump 17%

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Iowa COVID cases still flat; hospitalizations jump 17%

Jul 06, 2022 | 4:09 pm ET
By Jared Strong
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Iowa COVID cases still flat; hospitalizations jump 17%
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Iowa's COVID-19 infection rate has been mostly flat for the past two months but is likely undercounted. (Image via National Foundation for Infectious Diseases)

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Iowa continues to hover near 4,000 per week but hospitalizations have fluctuated and reached a new recent high, according to state and federal data.

There were 190 people infected by the virus who were receiving inpatient treatment at Iowa hospitals on Wednesday, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data. That number is up from 162 the week before.

Of the current COVID-19 patients, 14 were receiving intensive care.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 3,980 new coronavirus cases for the past week on Wednesday. The infection rate has held relatively steady for the past two months. But the data does not include at-home tests that are not reported to the state, which could cause a severe undercount.

Data collected by Biobot Analytics, which has been tasked by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor virus concentrations in public wastewater across the country, indicate that fewer than half of COVID-19 infections are being documented by health officials. That is based on comparisons of the virus concentrations and confirmed cases earlier in the pandemic when testing was more rigorously tracked.

The Biobot data also suggest that the number of confirmed cases during the January peak — when there were more than 5,000 new cases per day in Iowa — was similarly undercounted.

The omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to account for virtually all infections in the United States, according to CDC data. However, the dominant omicron subvariant is shifting. The BA.5 subvariant now accounts for slightly more than half of infections, the CDC reported last week. Two months ago it was responsible for less than 1% of infections.

The areas of Iowa with the highest threat of infection are to the north and east, the CDC reported last week. The agency ranks counties as low, medium and high based on their infection and hospitalization rates.

Two counties ranked high in the most-recent report: Hancock and Henry. Those that had a medium threat were: Benton, Cedar, Cerro Gordo, Des Moines, Dubuque, Emmet, Franklin, Howard, Iowa, Jackson, Johnson, Jones, Kossuth, Linn, Louisa, Lyon, Muscatine, Scott, Washington, Winnebago, Worth and Van Buren.