Iowa COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations climbing quickly as State Fair begins

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DES MOINES, IOWA — The number of hospitalized Iowans who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 is rapidly increasing just as the biggest gathering of the year in Iowa – the State Fair – begins in Des Moines.

According to the weekly update released late Wednesday night by the Iowa Department of Public Health, there are currently 355 Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s the highest level since February 3rd of this year when the previous spike in COVID-19 infections was waning in the state. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Iowa dropped as low as 46 on June 24th. In the six weeks since then that number has increased by more than sevenfold.

The number of extremely ill COVID-19 patients is rising as well. 106 COVID-19 patients are currently in the ICU. That’s the highest that number has been since January 2021.

Doctors nationwide say the hospitalizations are overwhelmingly – often exclusively – among unvaccinated Americans. The current surge in COVID-19 cases is being fueled by the spread of the delta variant of the virus. That mutation occured as the virus was spread between unvaccinated Americans, doctors say.

In the last week the state of Iowa averaged 750 new cases of the coronavirus per day in Iowa. Those figures are the highest in months as well.

The Iowa State Fair began on Thursday. As many as one million people are expected to visit the fairgrounds during the 11-day festival. The Fair has no mask of social distancing requirements. State Fair CEO Gary Slater says visitors who are comfortable wearing masks my choose to do so. He also says the Fair has numerous hand-washing and sanitation stations, though scientists say the virus is rarely spread through touch but rather through droplets in the air from coughs and sneezes.

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