An eye on the data: Key numbers during the COVID-19 crisis in Iowa
Iowa COVID-19 death count to 5,849, with 95 of 99 counties in double digits
Total positive cases tests near 385,000
Initial unemployment claims past 617,000

Updated Friday, April 9, 2021

Impacts of the 13-month COVID-19 pandemic have remained persistent in Iowa with deaths and total positive cases still rising, though at a pace slower than the peak in November as vaccines have arrived. Still, uncertainty remains about new strains of the virus in the state, with few social distancing or other state-ordered protections in place.

Just over one year since the first COVID-19 death was reported in Iowa (March 24, 2020), deaths stood at 5,849 and positive tests at 384,851. There are delays in reporting, but positive tests reported thus far for March and April are running above 500 per day, both well above the average for the first four months of the pandemic last year.

Governor Kim Reynolds has steadily relaxed and removed the limited mask and social distancing requirements that she had implemented in those early months.

Over the many months of the pandemic, delays in death and positive case reports — as well as recent changes in the number used to report individual positive tests — have hindered a consistently clear look at the pace of COVID-19 in Iowa. However, data offered on the state's website do provide evidence of a spread that is continuing but may have peaked, if variants of the virus do not change the course.

Trouble continues, meanwhile, for Iowa workers and the Iowa economy. In the unemployment claims report issued Thursday (April 8) for the week ending April 3, Iowa Workforce Development reported initial claims of 6,770, pushing Iowa to 628,154 claims in the 62 weeks since the current, pandemic-driven recession started. (See the summary below.).

The COVID-19 health data below are from IDPH as of Friday at 7 p.m. The counts for positive tests typically change as new information is gathered by the state, with updates to previously reported data. Death count updates now are usually provided once a day. The IDPH dashboard is found here.

The dark line in the next graph shows fluctuations in the daily number of new positive tests, while the shaded area shows the one-week rolling daily average throughout the pandemic in Iowa.

COVID cases statewide
The seven-day rolling average in daily positive tests, while far lower than the level of 1,000 or above per day from early October through late January, has held above the early months of the pandemic.

As with positive cases, the average daily death counts peaked in Iowa in November, reaching 1,510 and continuing to run strong in December, at 1,280, according to the latest state count updates. The totals are frequently revised especially for the most recent months, with those latest reports at 714 deaths in January and 276 for February. The typical lag in death reports may indicate the 121 deaths reported thus far for March are understated. For example, of the increase of 98 death reports since April 1, only three are reported to have occurred during April, the rest mostly in updates of data from January, February and early March.

Ninety-five counties have reached double digits in deaths to COVID-19. Eight counties have had at least 100 deaths: Dubuque, Linn, Black Hawk, Scott, Woodbury, Pottawattamie, Wapello and Polk. Besides Polk, at 596 deaths, Linn County and Black Hawk are above 300 deaths, while Scott, Woodbury and Dubuque also have passed 200.


Economic Impacts
New unemployment claims show jobless Iowans need greater protection

The state of Iowa saw another difficult week in initial unemployment claims for the week ending April 3. Iowa recorded 6,770 new claims, up from a revised 4,602 in new unemployment claims for the previous week, but now past 628,000 for the current recession.

Analysis throughout the pandemic has shown that through most of this recession, the initial claims number has been well above the level at similar points during the Great Recession. Recent weeks have been an exception to that trend. The magnitude of this recession can be understood by the observation that the average increase in initial claims has been 10,132 — compared to the average 5,497 for the same period in the era of the Great Recession (note the orange bars in the graph below, only seven rising above 10,000).

Common Good Iowa is a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research and analysis organization with offices in Des Moines and Iowa City. It was created by the recent merger of the Child and Family Policy Center in Des Moines and the Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City..