Semi Transparent Viruses
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By Jared Strong, Iowa Capital Dispatch

The number of new daily cases rose this past week for the first time in months but is still comparatively low. (Image by Fotograzia/Getty Images)

State health officials reported 930 new confirmed coronavirus infections on Wednesday for the past week, or an average rate of about 133 per day.

That is nearly double the previous week’s rate of about 68 per day but is still far below the pandemic peak in January, when there were more than 5,000 new COVID-19 cases per day. However, it’s the first time the number of weekly cases has increased in more than two months.

State Hygienic Laboratory testing has detected an omicron subvariant known as BA.2 in Iowa, said Sarah Ekstrand, a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Health. She did not say how prevalent the new, more contagious subvariant is, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates it is now the dominant strain causing infections in the country. Current vaccines appear to be effective in preventing serious illness with the subvariant.

The infection rate for the United States has stagnated in recent weeks after declining precipitously since mid January, but there is a resurgence in the Northeast, according to the New York Times. New confirmed cases in New York, for example, are up 77% the past two weeks.

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Despite the rising infections in Iowa, the infected people receiving inpatient treatment at the state’s hospitals plummeted further this past week to 33, down from 74. On Wednesday, the number of those under intensive care dwindled to six, down from 15 a week ago.

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The state also reported nine new deaths among infected people, for a pandemic total of 9,454. It’s unclear when the new deaths happened because their reports are often delayed for weeks.

“All eligible Iowans should stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines as the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death,” Ekstrand said.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized an additional booster dose for people ages 50 and older and for those with weakened immune systems. Ekstrand said a federal website is the best source for finding available vaccine shots.

“There is ample supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the state,” she said.

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