COVID-19 Crisis in Iowa
An eye on the data: Key numbers during crisis
• Iowa COVID-19 death count passes 1,600, in 91 of 99 counties
• Total positive cases above 111,000 as pace remains strong — daily average increases over 900 in October


Updated Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020

IOWA CITY, Iowa (Oct. 22, 2020) — Iowa’s COVID-19 death toll passed 1,600 in the latest reports Thursday and positive cases passed 112,000 in the continued strong pace of the coronavirus spread statewide.

Deaths reached 1,617 by midnight Thursday, while the pace of increases in individual positive tests have grown by more than 800 a day for 39 straight days, to 112,242. The seven-day rolling average ran above 1,000 for 12 straight days through Tuesday. Reports for the next two days are still being gathered and compiled, but both appear on pace to join that list.

The daunting health reports are accompanied by a lingering economic impact. On Thursday, state and federal labor agencies reported another stubbornly high level of initial unemployment claims for the latest week. The latest report, 4,662, is only the sixth week under 5,000 in the last 31 weeks of the COVID recession. (See summary below.)

On the health side, the seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 positives provides one indicator of the trends in the state, and by that measure, the average increase in positive cases has held above 600 per day since Aug. 18 (full-day reports).

The COVID-19 health data below are from the Iowa Department of Public Health, most reflecting data released by midnight Thursday. The counts typically change around the clock as new information is gathered, and revisions are made in previously reported data. The IDPH dashboard is found here.

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

COVID cases statewide
The daily average in positive tests has risen steadily in Iowa, and has been at its highest levels the last two months — at 994 per day for the first three weeks of October. This has occurred at the same time state restrictions on social and business activities have been relaxed, and schools have been ordered to conduct classes in person unless they get permission from the state to be fully online.

COVID cases statewide
All but eight of Iowa’s 99 counties have had deaths attributed to COVID-19, with 37 counties in double digits — both Carroll and Lee counties hitting the 10-fatality mark on Wednesday, and Delaware and Des Moines counties joining the list Thursday.

A week ago, total COVID deaths in Iowa stood at 1,550, and they have risen in two weeks from 1,480 (Oct. 8).

Economic Impacts
New unemployment claims show jobless Iowans need greater protection

While Iowans thrown out of work wait for Congress to address unemployment insurance during the current emergency, the state recorded 4,662 new unemployment claims in the week ending Oct. 17. The latest report included a downward revision for the previous week, from 4,644 to 4,192.

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. In the last 31 weeks, claims have been 464,511 — or 96 percent — of the total of 481,516 over the 38 weeks of this recession. The magnitude of this recession can be understood by the observation that the average increase in initial claims has been 12,671 — higher on average than for all but one week during the same 38 weeks of the Great Recession.

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..

Worker safety in COVID:
Who gets protection?
State policy is failing workers
Public policies should be assessed on whom they put at risk and whom they reward. The blanket business immunity in SF2338 during COVID-19 comes with a failed record of protecting Iowa workers.
Iowa Policy Points post by Colin Gordon June 16, 2020

Threat to critical state, local Iowa services
State fiscal relief must do more than meet emergency services
Congress must provide more to states and local governments — for the duration of the economic crisis — to avoid drastic cuts in education and other crucial public services.
Iowa Fiscal Partnership brief by Peter Fisher UPDATED May 23, 2020

More IPP, IFP research and perspectives

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'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