Weekly COVID-19 status figures indicate community spread remains high

State health officials are reporting for the third week in a row that new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have once again exceeded 10,000.

Authorities on Wednesday reported 10,812 new cases over the past week, with 23.5% of new infections reported in children 17 and under.

For the second week in a row, 81 more Iowans have been confirmed to have died from COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 6,563.

The state reported that 624 Iowans are currently hospitalized with the virus, down slightly from 638 last week.

Iowa’s coronavirus infection rates remain high as other parts of the country experience significant declines in new infections.

Dan Diekema, an infectious disease specialist at University of Iowa hospitals and clinics, said the current spread was caused by the reopening of schools without mask requirements where the majority of children are not eligible to be vaccinated .

“You have a very vulnerable population,” he said, “a lot of transmission can happen, and then this transmission goes into the community when such a large percentage of your population is unvaccinated”.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 63.5% of Iowans ages 12 and older are fully immunized.

Some counties in Iowa, such as Davis and Decatur, report that their vaccination rates are closer to 40 percent.

Diekema said the state’s low vaccination rate was another factor in the spread of the virus.

“We have a large population of unvaccinated individuals in the state,” he said. “In parts of the state where the county-level vaccination rates are really, really low. And so I think that is playing a role.”

Diekema said he encourages all eligible Iowans to get vaccinated as soon as possible and recommends that everyone wear masks in indoor public spaces.

According to the CDC, all 99 counties in Iowa have high rates of community transmission.

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