New coronavirus cases plummet in Iowa

Mike Stucka
Kayla Massie, right, is joined by Moberly High School Astra Club members Maddie Taylor, left, and Anna Rivera as they review a document to verify if a motorist's name is shown on a list of persons who  made an advance reservation to receive a free meal Wednesday at the annual Moberly Community Goodwill Thanksgiving Dinner drive-thru event in Missouri. In lieu of its traditional buffet-style sit-down dinner, the coronavirus pandemic forced organizers to change its format and require persons to meet a Nov. 17 deadline to reserve a meal for pick up.

Iowa reported far fewer coronavirus cases in the week ending Saturday, adding 17,976 new cases. That's down 29.9% from the previous week's toll of 25,648 new cases.

Iowa ranked No. 12 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 1,140,385 reported cases of coronavirus, a decrease of -3.9% from the week before. Across the country, 16 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Across Iowa, cases fell in 89 counties, with the best declines in Polk, Scott and Black Hawk counties.

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The share of Iowa test results that came back positive was 40.2% in the latest week, compared with 45% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 36,608 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 47,187. 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.

Within Iowa, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Humboldt, Sac and Cherokee counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Polk County, with 2,655 cases; Linn County, with 1,126 cases; and Scott County, with 1,076. Weekly case counts rose in seven counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Humboldt, Ida and Allamakee counties.

In the state, 184 people died in the latest week. In the previous week, 206 people died.

A total of 227,179 people in Iowa have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 2,375 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 13,244,417 people have tested positive and 266,047 people have died.