June 20, 2021

Iowa tops 4,000 coronavirus deaths as infection rate rises

DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa surpassed 4,000 coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday, marking another grim milestone with its infection rate rising again and most people still months from being able to get vaccinated.

Officials in Polk County, home to Des Moines, released a tentative timeline this week warning that the general public likely won’t be able to get vaccinated until mid to late 2021. Neither Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office nor state or county health officials immediately replied to inquiries seeking further information about the timeline.

The county guidelines appear to follow the state’s vaccination rollout, which is based on federal guidelines that prioritize first vaccinating health care workers and long-term care residents.

Second in line will be firefighters, police officers and corrections officers. Workers in food and agriculture, the postal service, grocery stores, public transit, teachers and school staff, day care workers and manufacturing will also have priority. People age 75 and above also are in the second tier of recipients.

A third group will include people age 64 to 74 and people between age 16 and 64 who have underlying medical conditions. It also includes other essential workers, including those in transportation and logistics, food service, housing construction and finance, information technology, communications, energy, law, public safety, public health and media.

While state officials haven’t provided an update on vaccination progress in recent days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker showed Wednesday that Iowa had administered 60,137 doses of the 120,175 it received.

Nationally, about 4.8 million of the 17 million vaccine doses that were distributed have been administered, according to the CDC tracker.

State health officials reported 61 additional deaths on Wednesday, pushing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 4,060. Iowa had the 16th highest per capita coronavirus death rate, at nearly 127 deaths per 100,000 people, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The infection rate accelerated in recent days. The seven-day rolling average positivity rate in Iowa has risen from nearly 33% on Dec. 22 to over 46% on Jan. 5. That is the third-highest positivity rate in the country, trailing only Idaho’s and Alabama’s. Iowa added 2,785 more confirmed cases on Wednesday, pushing its pandemic total to 289,464.