BREAKING: Iowa Covid Numbers Remain In Danger Zone; Omicron Continues To Spread
BREAKING NEWS: Iowa’s covid numbers for infection, deaths and hospitalizations remained in the danger zone again this week, with the omicron variant spreading to 10 Iowa counties, as shutdowns increase nationwide, including in neighboring Illinois.
Omicron has now been identified in over three dozen patients in ten Iowa counties, including Black Hawk, Des Moines, Dubuque, Franklin, Jefferson, Johnson, Linn, Polk, Scott and Story counties. The more virulent variant is spiking along with new cases of previous variants, as Iowa Department of Public Health has reported 9,506 positive tests per day in the last seven days, for a 10.6 percent positivity rate over the past two weeks. Those numbers are about the same as the previous two-week period, which saw 9,630 positive tests per day and a 10.7 percent positivity rate.
Those numbers are the highest in Iowa since mid-December 2020 — echoing Illinois’ latest data showing that neighboring state is also hitting its highest numbers in a year.
The omicron variant has already been identified in at least 22 other states, including neighboring Illinois, Missouri and Nebraska.
Neighboring Illinois is likewise continuing to see a spike, as for the third time in a week, Illinois covid numbers set a new record high. The last figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health showed 18,942 cases of the virus were diagnosed on Thursday, the last day numbers were reported. The seven day average for the state covid infection rate is now 12,573, yet another new record since the pandemic began.
The state is currently seeing its highest number of cases of the entire pandemic and hospitalizations increased by 330 patients in the last 24 hours, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The number of daily cases in the U.S. topped 197,000 on Friday, a 65% increase over two weeks ago and nearing the record of 251,000 new daily cases set in January, according to the latest CDC numbers.
The omicron variant was responsible for 73 percent of new cases over the last week nationwide.
In reaction to the exploding numbers, shutdowns and new restrictions have begun statewide in Illinois. Beginning Jan. 3, Chicago as well as suburban Cook County — areas in regions 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 — will require proof of vaccination for many indoor public spaces.
Several schools across the state announced they’ll be going to remote learning at least to begin the next semester in January. Northwestern, DePaul and University of Chicago in Cook County will all begin as remote learning, as will University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign in downstate Champaign and Illinois State University. In addition, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale has told students, faculty and staff that they must test negative for covid-19 within 48 hours of returning to campus, including those who have been vaccinated, and those who have not been vaccinated will have to continue to be tested weekly.
No such restrictions have been announced for Iowa.
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