Coronavirus cases surge in Iowa

Mike Stucka
People wait in their cars to be tested for the coronavirus with drive-up rapid testing at the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Oct. 23, 2020.

New coronavirus cases leaped in Iowa in the week ending Saturday, rising 53.2% as 33,301 cases were reported. The previous week had 21,744 new cases.

Iowa ranked No. 3 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 1,017,810 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 33.3% from the week before. Across the country, 48 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Within Iowa, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Jones, Calhoun and Page counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Polk County, with 4,534 cases; Linn County, with 3,120 cases; and Scott County, with 2,195. Weekly case counts rose in 91 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Polk, Linn and Scott counties.

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The share of Iowa test results that came back positive was 51.3% in the latest week, compared with 46.2% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 51,627 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 37,827.Experts say it is important to look at the share of tests that come back positive, not just case counts, to get a better idea of whether the rate of new infections is changing or if differences in testing are playing a role.

The World Health Organization says places should be conducting enough tests to have fewer than 5% coming back positive. Places where the percentage is higher could struggle to complete contact tracing soon enough to prevent spread of the virus.

Across Iowa, cases fell in eight counties, with the best declines in Jones, Calhoun and Cass counties.

In the state, 143 people died in the latest week. In the previous week, 126 people died.

A total of 183,555 people in Iowa have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 1,985 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 10,903,890 people have tested positive and 245,598 people have died.