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Iowa will increase reporting frequency for COVID-19 data

Last updated on September 4, 2021

Iowa will begin publicly reporting “comprehensive” information on its COVID-19 dashboards three days a week instead of weekly, Iowa Department of Public Health Director Kelly Garcia announced in a news conference Sept. 2.

Reports will be issued on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

“It is our goal to highlight the critical information Iowans want more frequently, but this approach and frequency also allows time for our data team to ensure the accuracy of that deeper level information,” Garcia said.

She added the state will reformat the website to make hospitalization data more prominent and include the associated vaccination status for patients who have been hospitalized. The metrics will be on the landing page so they’re “easier to see and it’s easier to see what this looks like over time, as compared to a marker of when we deployed vaccines to all Iowans,” she said.

The state had moved to weekly reporting July 7, and archived previous data, including information related to serology, occupation data, and underlying conditions of patients.

“For context, we were one of the last states in this region [to scale back the frequency of reporting] … The situation though, has evolved, and we are not where we were a year ago, in a good way, mostly. But we also hear you,” Garcia said. “We know that as the virus evolves, as we see states struggling with high case counts in the South, and as we hit another milestone in our response, it’s time to make another shift. We owe it to you to share and ensure that you have access to clear information. … Every day, all along, internally, we are looking at critical data points.”

She said the department is working with hospitals and has developed technology to ensure they have the data they need to adjust operations.

Gov. Kim Reynolds told reporters she would encourage parents who are concerned about the safety of their children with a lack of mask mandates in school districts talk with their doctors to decide what’s best for their child.

“And that’s where I believe it needs to stay,” she said.

She said “several” of the parents she had spoken with who have children with underlying conditions or an individualized education plan “had more issues with the mask than they actually did without the mask.”

“It’s their right to wear a mask,” she said.

Reynolds said Garcia’s perspective on whether children should wear masks “doesn’t really matter” because the ban on mask mandates “is a law.”

Reynolds said the risk of “serious illness” in children is “minimal” and that “only 2%” of Iowans who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 are under 18 years old.

“Practically speaking, what began as a pandemic will become an endemic,” she said. “The virus, it’s here to stay, which means we have to find a way to live it with it in a responsible, balanced, and sustainable way.”

She said the state’s hygienic lab has “ample testing supplies” available for healthcare providers, and free Test Iowa kits are available for home use, and Iowan can have order those from testiowa.com to be shipped to their homes.

Reynolds said resources in some Iowa hospitals are being stretched.

“In some cases, it’s due to limited bed capacity, and … in many others, it’s because of workforce shortages,” she said.

She said 79% of patients who are currently hospitalized had not yet received the COVID-19 vaccine when they were infected, and 90% of patients currently admitted to an intensive care unit are unvaccinated.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said his office is researching whether Iowa City’s mask mandate breaks the state law.

This article was originally posted on Iowa will increase reporting frequency for COVID-19 data

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