Virus Outbreak-Iowa

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a press conference at Iowa PBS on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Johnston, Iowa. With 37% of Iowans fully vaccinated, Reynolds called on those unsure or skeptical to make an appointment and receive the vaccine.

OSKALOOSA — COVID-19 hospitalizations have started to rise in Iowa, six more deaths were reported and many Iowa counties are finding demand for the vaccine is slowing.

The new deaths were reported Thursday by the Iowa Department of Public Health. The state regularly reports deaths on a delay, taking days and weeks to add deaths publicly after a verification process. To date, there have been 5,899 deaths reported in Iowa.

Hospitalizations in the state jumped to 238 as of Thursday morning according to new state data. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had dropped 160 in mid-March, at the time a nine-month low.

In recent days, however, new admissions have created an upward trend in the statistic. The 238 hospitalized is the highest number since Feb. 19.

Iowa pushed 25,466 more vaccine doses into arms Wednesday, moving the number of doses administered to Iowans further beyond the 2 million mark. As of Thursday, the state has given one dose of the vaccine to roughly 11.9% of its population. About 28.9% have received both doses.

Counties in growing numbers are beginning to deny vaccine allocations, citing low demand. This week, 43 of Iowa’s 99 counties told the state they did not have enough demand to use vaccine shipments due to arrive next week.

Among area counties with concerns included Wapello and Keokuk.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday tried to tamp down on vaccine hesitancy in the state, believed to be among the leading factors in dwindling demand for the COVID-19 vaccines.

The governor said vaccinations are a key factor in returning to normal by the fall, and asked family members to encourage other family members to get vaccinated.

"I want to appeal to everyone who's hesitating,” she said. “If you're opting to wait and see, what are you waiting for? If you've been a hard no from the start, what's your reason? And if you can't answer those questions, we hope that you take the time to reconsider."

The first COVID-19 vaccine became available in December, with two others authorized by the Food and Drug Administration since. The supply of the vaccines was initially the concern. Once members of the general public started becoming eligible, appointments were scarce, often snatched up minutes after becoming available.

That has changed. Despite all Iowans over the age of 16 being eligible to receive the vaccine, appointments are now plentiful.

Iowa Vaccine Alerts, a Twitter account operated by Iowa City web developer Brian Finley that tracks vaccine appointments, tweeted yesterday his account's usefulness is fading as appointments become more available.

The account showed Thursday there were appointments available at Hy-Vees in Knoxville, Pella and Oskaloosa, as well as most other Hy-Vee pharmacies across Iowa.

All Iowans are now able to use the state's 211 phone line to schedule appointments, Reynolds said.

Marion County leads the Herald's coverage area in the percent of its population that has been fully vaccinated. The county ranks 67th in Iowa, with 8,907 receiving all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Another 3,062 have received the first dose.

In Mahaska County, there have been 4,733 receive all required doses of the vaccine, which ranks 97th in Iowa in terms of rate of completed vaccination series. There have been another 1,728 receive the first dose to date.

The state added 497 new individuals who tested positive for COVID-19. Mahaska and Marion counties each had four new cases.

To date, there have been 361,811 Iowans test positive for the coronavirus.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Oskaloosa Herald and the Ottumwa Courier. He can be reached at kocker@oskyherald.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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