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Number of ICU beds available in Iowa at pandemic low

Total number of patients in intensive care with coronavirus near initial peak in early 2020, but significantly below November record
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:05 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - Fewer patient beds in intensive care units in Iowa are available than at any other time during the pandemic, according to the latest state data.

As of Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health said that 163 ICU beds were available in total in the state. The number of beds that are available can vary based on multiple factors, including deployment of extra capacity, staffing, and the number of patients in Iowa hospitals for reasons not related to coronavirus.

157 people are currently in ICUs with COVID-19, down four patients from last Wednesday’s number. This count is in the same range as the initial peak after the first cases of coronavirus were discovered in Iowa in early May 2020, though about 55% lower than the all-time peak of 288 patients with COVID-19 in the state’s ICUs in mid-November 2020.

The availability of ICU beds varies by region of the state, according to the state’s data. Region 2, which includes hospitals in Mason City and surrounding areas, only has two ICU beds available. Region 1, which contains Des Moines, and Region 5, which includes Iowa City and the Quad Cities, each have 21 ICU beds available. This is less than half the available capacity in Region 3, including Sioux City and other areas, and Region 6, which contains Waterloo and Dubuque.

A map showing different hospital RMCC regions in Iowa, with associated intensive care unit bed...
A map showing different hospital RMCC regions in Iowa, with associated intensive care unit bed capacity, as of Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021.(KCRG / data via Iowa Department of Public Health)

Overall hospitalization for patients in Iowa with COVID-19 is 638, which is down 16 patients since last Wednesday. 80 people require the use of a ventilator with the virus, up six over the last week. 92 patients were admitted to Iowa hospitals in the last 24 hour period, which is a similar rate to recent weeks.

Over the past week, 10,812 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in Iowa, or about 1,544.6 per day based on a seven-day average. This is down slightly from the previous week’s rate of 1,566.7 individuals per day testing positive. A total of 451,492 people have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began.

81 additional people who died with COVID-19 were added to the state’s total, which is now 6,563 people. State officials said that these deaths occurred between August 10 and September 21, but lagged reporting means they are just being counted now.

A total of 3,441,749 doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in Iowa, or about 33,320 more than the same time last Wednesday. 118,711 people have received their first dose and are waiting for a second dose, 3,152 fewer than last Wednesday. 1,676,795 people have completed their vaccination course, or about 52.6% of the total population of Iowa, showing an increase of 14,471 people.

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