Coronavirus cases fall in Iowa

Mike Stucka
Jose Garcia, 68, who has been sedated and intubated for COVID-19 since Nov. 13, is visited by his daughter, Carolina Garcia, a nurse at Memorial Medical Center on Nov. 30, 2020, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Carolina says she wipes away tears that form after she whispers in his ear.

Iowa reported 16,206 new cases of coronavirus in the week ending Saturday, down 9.8% from the previous week when 17,976 new cases were reported.

Iowa ranked No. 20 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 1,336,636 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 17.2% from the week before. Across the country, 36 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Across Iowa, cases fell in 57 counties, with the best declines in Polk, Linn and Dubuque counties.

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The share of Iowa test results that came back positive was 39.6% in the latest week, compared with 40.2% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 30,821 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 36,608. 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 Cherokee, Ida and Kossuth counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Polk County, with 2,251 cases; Scott County, with 938 cases; and Linn County, with 777. Weekly case counts rose in 40 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Pottawattamie, Lee and Woodbury counties.

In the state, 307 people died in the latest week. In the previous week, 184 people died.

A total of 243,385 people in Iowa have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 2,682 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 14,581,337 people have tested positive and 281,186 people have died.