COVID-19 Crisis in Iowa
An eye on the data: Key numbers during crisis
• Iowa daily positive cases pass 16,500
• Deaths hit 441, the count rising 27 in 24 hours as Polk County passes 100

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Updated Friday, May 22, 2020

IOWA CITY, Iowa (May 22, 2020) —The count of Iowa coronavirus cases have risen past the 16,500 mark and deaths hit 441 heading into the Memorial Day weekend with looser social-distancing rules.

By early late Friday evening, the official case count was at 16,507, compared with 16,170 on Thursday evening, and the total death count had risen to 441 from 414 over that period. The biggest change in deaths came in Polk County, where the count rose to 105 from 91 the night before.

However, the new data did not represent an increase in cases or deaths on Thursday or Friday by those amounts, but in reports of cases or deaths that in many instances reflected revisions in previously reported data.

Governor Kim Reynolds allowed a reopening of movie theaters, zoos, aquariums, museums and wedding reception venues with certain restrictions, and gave the go-ahead for summer sports activities in Iowa schools. Last week she announced a new relaxation of social-distancing restrictions that had remained in place in 22 of the 99 counties.

The Governor previously ordered a loosening of certain restrictions May 1 in the other 77 counties, including on restaurants, fitness centers, malls, libraries, race tracks, and religious gatherings.

Review by Peter Fisher of the Iowa Policy Project shows that eight of the 77 counties where restrictions were first relaxed have become trouble spots.

The previous week, the Governor relaxed previous orders by permitting elective surgery and an opening of farmers' markets with some limitations.

The COVID-19 health data below are from the Iowa Department of Public Health, most reflecting data releaed by late Thursday afternoon. The total case count will be revised by IDPH as the data is gathered. The IDPH dashboard is found here.

COVID cases statewide
On Friday, Marshall County became the 10th county in double digits on COVID-19 deaths, as shown in the map below. Thirty-six counties, with the addition of Cerro Gordo County on Thursday, have had at least one death.

Total COVID-19 cases continue to be significantly higher they were two weeks earlier. They stood at 12,063 on May 7.

COVID cases statewide
Total COVID-19 deaths to the current mark from 364 on May 15, and well above the level of 272 on May 8.

COVID deaths statewide

Economic Impacts
New unemployment claims rising in Iowa way above Great Recession pace

IPP’s Colin Gordon has been reviewing the unemployment claims data and in the graph below illustrates how much more severe the COVID crisis has been than a similar period of the Great Recession in 2007-09. See Gordon's post on the latest numbers on the Iowa Policy Points blog.

The Iowa Policy Project (IPP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research and analysis organization based in Iowa City. IPP has been tracking Iowa job trends since its founding in 2001.

Research, perspectives
from IPP, IFP

Understanding the data
• Key Iowa counties to watch. See the latest analysis, through last week, of what data indicate are potential trouble spots in the COVID-19 crisis.
• Why there's trouble ahead for rural areas — faster pace of infection, fewer limits. From trends evident in official data, IPP's Peter Fisher has identified several counties that are apparent COVID-19 trouble spots. In his latest update, he shows 16 counties had 200 or more new cases for every 10,000 people over two weeks. Of those, eight were among 77 counties where Governor Reynolds had eased social distancing restrictions — and six showed a doubling of cases in one week.

Meeting the emergency
• Iowa will need more fiscal relief than Congress has given
• COVID-19 poses threats to Iowa state and local services
• Governor’s metrics still raise questions
• Sheltering the data in place
• COVID metrics in Iowa arbitrary, backward facing
• Iowa's leaders need to better involve the public

The Economy
• Iowa unemployment claims keep rising LATEST — 5/7/20
• Iowa's employment apocalypse
• New solutions needed long term

The Safety Net — Supports
• Expanding SNAP access
• Good start on jobless insurance
• Make Iowa resilient: Strengthen supports

Special perspectives
• Guest opinion: Meatpacking outbreak unsurprising given Iowa laws
• When economists talk health, we'd betterpay attention
• Winston Churchill's words today for Iowa