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Iowa’s increasing death totals show COVID’s deadly impact

Iowa – Overall deaths in Iowa are on pace to increase this year by more than 10% over the previous year, an indicator of COVID-19’s deadly impact.

And at the worst moment of the virus’ recent surge here, deaths during Thanksgiving week in Iowa spiked by nearly 62% over the same week a year ago, federal data shows.

The first deaths of the global COVID-19 pandemic in Iowa were recorded in March. Over the roughly 10 months since, nearly 3,700 Iowans have died of COVID-19 or virus-related causes.

Public health and infectious disease experts use excess deaths — the number of deaths over a period of time compared to similar periods in previous years — as a key indicator of a pandemic’s impact.

As of Wednesday, deaths in Iowa in 2020 were pacing 12.1% higher than 2019, according to data recorded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Some are clearly directly COVID per death certificates, some are secondary to the impact of COVID on serious underlying conditions, some are the impact of people delaying and avoiding care to stay away from health care facilities” said Dr. Louis Katz, the Scott County Health Department medical director and an infectious disease specialist. “The deaths are measured as ‘excess’ compared to same time periods in years before the pandemic.”

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