COVID-19 cases surge 548.4% in Iowa

Mike Stucka

New coronavirus cases leaped in Iowa in the week ending Sunday, rising 548.4% as 30,267 cases were reported. The previous week had 4,668 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Iowa ranked first among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 489,902 reported cases of coronavirus, a decrease of 23% from the week before. Across the country, six states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Iowa Changed how it reports cases, moving from individual people to positive test results. That added about 27,000 new cases to the rolls, Johns Hopkins University says.

Within Iowa, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Buena Vista, Adair and Ida counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Polk County, with 7,197 cases; Black Hawk County, with 1,421 cases; and Scott County, with 1,381. Weekly case counts rose in 99 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Polk, Black Hawk and Woodbury counties.

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The share of Iowa test results that came back positive was 13.2% in the latest week, compared with 26.2% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 19,179 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 12,831. 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.

In Iowa, 100 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Sunday. In the week before that, 128 people were reported dead.

A total of 359,525 people in Iowa have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 5,336 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 28,134,115 people have tested positive and 498,897 people have died.

The Rev. Daniel Belken sprinkles ashes on top of a parishioner's head during the Ash Wednesday Mass at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. This year ashes were sprinkled on top of the head as a precaution against spreading COVID-19.