May 18, 2022 - COVID

Des Moines may mask back up, mayor says

An illustration of a mask.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Des Moines may reinstate a mask policy if cases continue to escalate, Mayor Frank Cownie warned during a council work session Tuesday.

Driving the news: Iowa averaged around 505 new COVID cases per day in the last week, according to The New York Times tracker. That's more than double the average two weeks ago.

  • Deaths in that time have increased by 16%, with a daily average of three, as of Tuesday. Hospitalizations are averaging 132 a day, up 55%.

Zoom in: Polk County reported a seven-day average of 105 new cases on Tuesday, up by 159% from two weeks ago.

Flashback: The latest uptick is nowhere near the numbers documented in January, when the highest daily average of new cases hit 5,486 statewide and 1,072 in Polk County.

  • When Des Moines' municipal masking ended on Feb. 28, Iowa was averaging around 474 new daily cases, and Polk County about 101, per the Times.

Yes, but: It's unclear how large the latest coronavirus wave actually is, partly because current counts don't include at-home results.

  • Two gauges — hospitalizations and deaths — are still far below those seen in December and January.
  • The community level of COVID-19 in Polk County is still considered low, according to the CDC.

What's next: Cownie directed city staff to continue monitoring case counts.

Be smart: Americans can now order up to eight additional free coronavirus tests from the federal government online.


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