Jason Clayworth
Jan 11, 2022 - COVID

Iowa's contact tracing wanes as COVID-19 surges

Illustration of two photographs of people in silhouette pinned to a wall with a broken string between them
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More Iowa counties are deciding to call it quits with COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.

Driving the news: In the past two weeks, both Johnson and Linn counties have ended their contract tracing programs.

Why it matters: Tracing can help slow the spread of the disease by alerting more people of potential exposures.

Jason Clayworth
Jan 10, 2022 - COVID

New record COVID-19 level found in Des Moines metro wastewater

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A record level of COVID-19 was detected in Des Moines metro wastewater last week.

Why it matters: A recent surge, driven by Omicron, is likely underreported. And at-home rapid tests aren't included in many case counts, both locally and across the country.

  • "Not everyone gets tested but everyone has to flush," Des Moines Public Works director Jonathan Gano told Axios.
Linh Ta
Jan 7, 2022 - COVID

Tips for finding COVID-19 tests in the Des Moines area

Illustration of a pattern of covid particles and positive signs.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

I ate what seemed to be unusually bland French onion soup from Panera the other day that, combined with holiday mingling, prompted COVID nervousness.

  • Was it a mediocre day in the kitchen? Or was I — like many others — positive for COVID-19?

I was able to track down a test and ultimately, it was bad soup.

  • For any of you worried about a potential exposure, here are my tips and tricks for finding a COVID test near you.
Jason Clayworth
Jan 6, 2022 - COVID

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie's 2022 goal: Defeat the pandemic

A photo of Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie.
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie (left) greets Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan last year. Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP

Overcoming the pandemic — specifically trying to get more people vaxxed and to take precautions more seriously — is Des Moines' top concern, Mayor Frank Cownie told Axios.

State of play: About 70% of Iowans ages 12 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including roughly 65% of those eligible in Polk County.

Jason Clayworth
Jan 5, 2022 - COVID

Why a COVID-19 surge is underreported in Polk County

An illustration of a woman standing in front of COVID-19 outline.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

People who test positive for COVID-19 using at-home rapid tests are not included in official case counts unless the results are verified using a PCR test, Polk County Health Department spokesperson Nola Aigner Davis told Axios.

Why it matters: A recent surge in COVID-19 cases is underreported.

  • The growing use of at-home tests offers convenience but has left health agencies across the country in the dark, PBS News Hour reports.
Linh Ta
Dec 9, 2021 - COVID

Omicron variant found in Iowa

Illustration of the state of Iowa covered in bandages.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Omicron variant has been identified in Iowa.

Driving the news: State health officials announced Thursday that an unvaccinated person under age 18 has tested positive for the new coronavirus variant.

  • The Black Hawk County resident is asymptomatic, but got a test because of travel exposure.
Jason Clayworth
Dec 2, 2021 - COVID

Record levels of COVID-19 detected in Des Moines metro sewage

Tiled wall with a COVID cell cut into a sheet of toilet paper on the roll.
Maura Losch/Axios

Record levels of COVID-19 were detected in metro-area sewage collected just before Thanksgiving, according to the latest test results.

Driving the news: The Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority's sample collection on Nov. 22 shows coronavirus concentration levels roughly 9% higher than the previous peak in September.

Why it matters: Wastewater surveillance can be a leading indicator of COVID-19 because not everybody gets tested for the virus, according to the CDC.

  • Asymptomatic infections show up in the data. And sewage testing is conducted independently from health clinics, which are dependent on community members seeking out care.
Jason Clayworth
Nov 30, 2021 - News

A Polk County jail whistleblower’s $65K settlement

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A Polk County Jail social worker fired last year after criticizing how the facility handled COVID-19 restrictions was awarded $65,000 in a settlement approved last week by the Board of Supervisors.

Why it matters: Michaela Jens alleged her termination was retaliatory.

Of note: At least 89 inmates and nine staffers had tested positive for the virus, according to county data released two days after Jens was discharged.

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