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COVID-19 hospitalizations in Polk County are at an all-time high, health officials warn – Des Moines Register


Nov 15, 2020

Health officials continue to stress the urgency of rising COVID-19 cases in Iowa as hospitalizations due to the virus reached an all-time high in Polk County on Saturday.

There are currently 204 COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to a Saturday Polk County Health Department news release.

“This is the highest number of hospitalizations Polk County has seen throughout the pandemic. We cannot stress enough how alarming and urgent the situation has become for hospitals and their health care workers,” the department wrote in the release.

Most, if not all, COVID-19 patients hospitalized are residents of Polk County, Nola Aigner Davis, the Public Health Communications Officer for Polk County, told the Register. Rural hospitals have been helping with overflow by taking in patients from Polk County as well, Aigner Davis said.

The department noted that one of the biggest challenges hospitals in Polk County face is a shortage of staff, as an increasing number of medical staff are contracting the virus and isolating at home.

“Please remember to keep our health care providers safe and healthy. They have been fighting this virus and taking care of patients since March,” the department wrote in the release. “They are tired both physically and mentally. Help us keep them safe by following COVID-19 prevention strategies.”

Health officials are pleading to the community to slow the spread of the virus and follow COVID-19 prevention strategies, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, staying home when sick and staying up to date with flu shots.

“There is absolutely uncontrolled transmission in the state of Iowa,” said Dr. Rossana Rosa, infectious disease expert at UnityPoint Health-Des Moines. “The message I want to get out is: We’re not at the worst yet.”

Rossana recommends that Iowans gather in their households rather than in public spaces.

“Every day we do not take more stringent actions against the virus is one more day we’re not getting out of this,” she continued. “To see progress, we need to start acting now.”

Further, Aigner Davis said that hospitalizations and positive COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Polk County because the public is not taking the pandemic seriously enough.

“People have COVID-19 fatigue and aren’t following mitigation strategies, like wearing a mask,” she said. “We simply cannot be doing this … Our hospital systems and our health care providers can’t take that.”

Aigner Davis also emphasized that health officials are extremely concerned that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations will continue to rise as families gather for the upcoming holidays. Health officials see peaks in COVID-19 cases after every holiday,” she said.

“We are putting our loved ones, our friends, our families, our communities at risk,” Aigner Davis continued. “We have so much community spread … We should be only seeing 70 new cases a day on a downward trend, and we are definitely not seeing that at all.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a proclamation Tuesday that require Iowans to wear masks at public outdoor and indoor gatherings as new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to set records.

Iowans must wear masks at indoor gatherings exceeding 25 people. For outdoor gatherings, that number is 100 people. But there are many exceptions to the mask rules. For instance, restaurants, bars, schools, gyms and grocery stores do not fall under Reynolds’ proclamation. Meanwhile, weddings, sporting events, and holiday gatherings must follow mask rules.

The proclamation went into effect on Wednesday and will last until Nov. 30.

More: A big wedding reception? Yes. The movies? Not necessarily. Here’s where Iowa does and does not require masks

Iowa Mourns: Does anybody care about Iowa’s COVID-19 dead? We do, and we’re telling their stories.

Iowa Mourns: The Iowans we’ve lost to COVID-19

Hospitalizations increase as Iowa reports another 25 COVID-19 deaths, 4,830 confirmed cases

Another 25 people with COVID-19 have died in Iowa and there have been an additional 4,830 confirmed cases, the state reported Saturday.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, the state was reporting 1,972 COVID-19-related deaths, an increase of 25 deaths since the state’s tally at 10 a.m. Friday.

The state was reporting at 10 a.m. Saturday that there are 180,253 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The total number of people tested is 1,089,768, according to the state. Of the people who have tested positive, 107,540 have recovered.

The daily numbers

The latest data as of 10 a.m. Saturday, compared to 10 a.m. Friday:

  • Confirmed cases: 180,253, an increase of 4,830.
  • Deaths: 1,972, an increase of 25.
  • Hospitalizations: 1,261, up from 1,227.
  • Patients in ICU: 246, up from 240.
  • Patients on ventilators: 107, no change.
  • Total tested: 1,089,768.
  • Total recovered: 107,540 

On Friday, 1,261 people were hospitalized in Iowa, up from 1,227 the day prior. The state updates its website each evening with that day’s hospitalization data.

Also, there were 246 patients in the ICU, up from 240 the day prior. There were 107 patients on ventilators, the same as the day prior.

On Saturday, the state was reporting 16.5% positive since the pandemic started. Iowa’s 14-day average was 22.9% positive, according to the state.

Of Iowa’s 99 counties, 93 had a 14-day positivity rate above 15% on Saturday. Another six counties were reporting between 10% and 15%. Polk County, the state’s most populous, was at 20.1%. Only one county was reporting below 10%.

Andrea Sahouri covers breaking news for the Des Moines Register. She can be contacted at asahouri@registermedia.com, on Twitter @andreamsahouri, or by phone 515-284-8247.


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