An eye on the data: Key numbers during the COVID-19 crisis in Iowa
Iowa COVID-19 death count nearing 6,100, with 95 of 99 counties in double digits
Total positive tests over 402,000
Initial unemployment claims past 630,000

Updated Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have remained persistent in Iowa with deaths and total positive cases still rising, though at a pace much slower than the peak in November as more Iowans are getting vaccinated, despite frew state-ordered protections in place.

Fifteen months since the pandemic reached Iowa and 14 months since the state’s first COVID-19 death was reported (March 24, 2020), deaths stood at 6,061 and positive tests at 402,020. There are delays in reporting, but positive tests reported thus far for April and May are running below daily averages earlier this year.

Governor Kim Reynolds has removed the limited mask and social distancing requirements that she had implemented in early months of the pandemic. The Legislature passed and the Governor signed, on the final day and night of the legislative session, a ban on any locally ordered mask mandates in local schools or by cities and counties on local businesses.

Over the many months of the pandemic, delays in death and positive case reports — as well as recent changes in the number used to report individual positive tests — have hindered a consistently clear look at the pace of COVID-19 in Iowa. However, data offered on the state's website do provide evidence that the spread has peaked, if variants of the virus do not change the course.

Trouble continues, meanwhile, for Iowa workers and the Iowa economy. In the unemployment claims report issued Thursday, May 27) for the week ending May 22, Iowa Workforce Development reported initial claims of 4,342, pushing Iowa to 657,809 in initial claims in the 69 weeks since the pandemic-driven recession started. (See the summary below.).

The COVID-19 health data below are from IDPH as of Wednesday at 3 p.m. The counts for positive tests typically change as new information is gathered by the state, with updates to previously reported data. Death count updates now are usually provided once a day. The IDPH dashboard is found here.

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

COVID cases statewide
The seven-day rolling average in daily positive tests is far lower than the level of 1,000 or above per day from early October through late January, and closer to the early months of the pandemic.

As with positive cases, the death counts peaked in Iowa in November, reaching 1,511 and continuing to run strong in December, at 1,282, according to the latest state count updates. The totals are frequently revised especially for the most recent months, with those latest reports at 720 deaths in January and 277 for February. The typical lag in death reports may indicate the count is understated.

Ninety-five counties have reached double digits in deaths to COVID-19. Nine counties now have had at least 100 deaths: Dubuque, Linn, Black Hawk, Scott, Woodbury, Pottawattamie, Wapello, Polk and the latest, Muscatine. Besides Polk, at 636 deaths, Linn County and Black Hawk are above 300 deaths, while Scott, Woodbury and Dubuque also have passed 200.


Economic Impacts
New unemployment claims show jobless Iowans still need greater protection

The state of Iowa saw another difficult week in initial unemployment claims for the week ending May 22. Iowa recorded 4,342 new claims, up from a revised 3,582 in new unemployment claims for the previous week, but now past 650,000 for the current recession (657,809).

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. That trend has reversed that trend, but the magnitude of this recession can be understood in a comparison of the average increase in initial claims — 9,533, compared to the average 5,816 for the same period in the era of the Great Recession (note the orange bars in the graph below, only seven rising above 10,000).

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..