COVID-19 cases on the rise in Iowa after holidays

COVID Cases Rising in Iowa After Holidays

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(ABC 6 News) – Across the nation, hospitals brace for an increase of respiratory illnesses this month.

In years past, the CDC usually sees a spike in new hospitalizations in January because of holiday travel. In Iowa, hospitals anticipate COVID-19 hospitalizations to keep rising.

“We expect after travel, after people get together, after the data input catches up, we expect to see all three major viruses RSV, COVID, influenza rates go up in January,” ABC News health contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton said.

The latest data from the CDC shows new weekly COVID hospitalizations in Iowa at 304, as of Dec. 23, 2023.

Credit: Center for Disease Control COVID Data Tracker

That about a 23% decrease from the previous week, but a steady increase since December has some doctors worried now.

“We’re starting to see some ICU cases, some longer cases, some patients who are more ill overall,” MercyOne vice president of medical affairs Dr. Matthew Sojka said.

The new weekly Iowa hospitalizations of 304 is the highest it’s been since December 2022, when 322 Iowans were hospitalized. Within a month, approximately 1,000 patients were being admitted each week.

“It seems each new strain of COVID seems to have a faster replication rate, spreads in the community easier,” Sojka said.

The COVID sub-variant JN-1 is going around in Iowa and the CDC says this variant might be better at getting around your immune system.

Some hospitals in Iowa are dealing with a low number of available beds, creating another concern.

“Our bed situation is pretty tight, and we do see that throughout the state that the intensive care beds in particular, but overall bed situation is tight,” Sojka said.

Sojka says MercyOne will do the best they can to not only prepare for future cases but be ready to tend to them as well.

People at risk the most include children under 5, adults over 65, pregnant women and anyone with a compromised immune system.

The CDC encourages everyone to get their vaccinations and reminds everyone to wash their hands and do their part to help limit the spread of disease.