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Iowa’s first COVID cases confirmed one year ago today

DES MOINES — It was a year ago today that Governor Kim Reynolds announced confirmation of the first cases of COVID in Iowa.

The first death of an Iowan who’d contracted the virus was announced on March 24. By early April of last year, one in 10 cases of Covid in Iowa were among nursing home residents or staff.

As of this weekend, state officials have confirmed 5558 Iowans have died after contracting COVID . By Sunday night, more than 860,000 Iowans have had at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.

By early April of last year, one in 10 cases of COVID in Iowa were among nursing home residents or staff. As of Sunday, the state’s coronavirus website shows nursing home residents account for 39% of the COVID -related deaths in Iowa. Brent Willett is president of the Iowa Health Care Association, which represents the 434 nursing homes in Iowa.

“More then 2400 people residing in nursing homes and around 35 staff members lost their life to Covid in the last year,” he told Radio Iowa, “which is a completely unprecedented circumstance in the history of our sector and it’s probably fair to say there’s still a lot of shell shock out there.”

Everyone who lives or works in a nursing home who wanted to be vaccinated has gotten a shot now. Willett said conversations are underway about how to prepare for the next infectious disease outbreak.

“For example, I think that we need to have a deep conversation about how we regulate and resource infection control preventionists in long-term care facilities,” Willett said. “It’s a critical, critical position. We have them now. We need more of them and we need to find a way to ensure that they can be more active and more proactive in planning for these kind of eventualities in the future.”

On Sunday evening, the state website tracking coronavirus activity indicated there were COVID outbreaks at 10 Iowa nursing homes. On the last day of November, 155 nursing homes had outbreaks.

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