Aug 16, 2021 - COVID
Iowa health officials worry latest COVID surge could overwhelm state
Data: The New York Times; Chart: Axios Visuals

COVID-19 cases are surging in Iowa, and with the fast spread of the Delta variant, the state is well on its way to being slammed by outbreaks similar to Missouri last month, Polk County health officials recently warned.

By the numbers: Iowa has a higher seven-day average of new daily cases — at 696, as of Thursday — than it did at this same time in 2020 (448). The jump comes even as vaccines are widely available.

  • In the last month, Iowa's seven-day case average jumped tenfold. (On July 12, the average was 61 cases.)
  • At this rate, Iowa could become overwhelmed by a surge of infections like Missouri or Arkansas, said Polk County epidemiologist Meghan Schaeffer, per the Register.

Yes, but: Coronavirus-related deaths are lower than they were last year as vulnerable elderly populations are mostly vaccinated, at 82%, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Between the lines: Iowa isn't taking steps toward curbing infections.

  • Plus, new state laws prevent municipalities and school districts from requiring face masks indoors, which the CDC currently recommends for Polk and Dallas counties.

Go deeper: Iowa COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations climb with August surge

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