Iowa’s COVID-19 policy poverty continues, rankings show


Iowa has suffered many more deaths per capita than Minnesota.

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A year ago, my essay “Rankings Show Poverty in Iowa’s COVID-19 Policy” documented how the United States, compared to other G-7 countries, had the second-highest COVID-fatality rate. 19 highest (65.2 per 100,000) compared to UK (86.9), Italy (59.9), France (50.6), Canada (26.1), Germany (11.3 ) and Japan (1.3).

At that time, Iowa had a higher COVID-19 death rate (49.5 deaths per 100,000) compared to surrounding states with agricultural economies – North Dakota (46.2), Minnesota (39.1) , Missouri (35.8), South Dakota (31), Nebraska (27.8) and Wisconsin (25). Iowa was the only state in the United States at the time not to require the use of school masks and also to require students to return to school in person.

In order to see how things have changed in a year, my country and state rate comparisons are again based on data from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. This world leader in health statistics modeling uses consistent methods to compare the COVID-19 measures of the countries and states described here – mortality, vaccine completion and mask use, as of October 14.

Following: Editorial: Iowa Board of Regents elevates prostration of Republican lawmakers at the expense of health and safety

Country rankings for cumulative COVID-19 mortality are now: Italy (283 deaths per 100,000), UK (243), US (238), France (227), l ‘Germany (161), Canada (126) and Japan (14). Despite being the world leader in the development of highly effective vaccines, the United States (65%) lags behind all G-7 countries in the number of people who have received at least one injection of vaccine – Germany (68%), Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom (74%), France (76%) and Canada (80%). Japan is largely the leader in the use of masks (93%), followed by Canada (65%), Italy (62%), France (47%), the United States (41%) , Germany (39%) and the United Kingdom (27%). Japan and Canada have widespread mask use, as well as high vaccination rates, and have once again best prevented COVID-19 deaths, reduced healthcare impacts and costs, and disruption of their economies, communities and schools.

Cumulative COVID-19 death rates among agricultural economy states in our region now find Kansas to have the highest rate (368 per 100,000), followed by Missouri (364), South Dakota (307), from Iowa (281), Nebraska and North Dakota (239), Wisconsin (235) and Minnesota (182). With the highly infectious delta variant now prevalent, the risk of infection is more similar across states and death rates now more reflect the state’s mitigation policy. Comparisons of vaccination rates are: Minnesota (65%), South Dakota (62%), Nebraska and Wisconsin (61%), Kansas (60%), Iowa (59%) and Missouri (56%).

The use of the mask is now well established as being effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Rates in the Upper Midwestern states are uniformly lower than the U.S. average – Missouri (34%), Kansas (29%), Nebraska (25%), Wisconsin (24%), Minnesota (22%) and Iowa (21%) ) the fourth-lowest mask use rate in the United States, ahead of only Wyoming (19%), South Dakota (16%) and North Dakota (15%). North and South Dakota and Iowa are national outliers in the use of masks to protect residents.

Following: Children sick with COVID and other insects flooded hospitals in the fall. Doctors are worried about what winter will bring.

It’s instructive to compare Iowa and Minnesota, which have almost identical proportions of their high-risk populations because of their age 65 and over (17%). Minnesota, however, has nearly double the proportion of minorities, a well-established second risk factor for increased mortality from COVID-19. Yet Iowa has suffered 99 more COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 population than Minnesota, a total of more than 3,000 excess preventable deaths for Iowa’s population of 3.155 million in 2019.

Minnesota’s public health mitigation efforts began with its governor and include its state and local health departments, health care providers, hospitals, academics, many community leaders and businesses who together , have protected the health of their public, saved lives, avoided hospitalizations, reduced health care costs and impacts on their health care providers, economy and communities.

Iowa’s ban on preventing local school districts from enforcing mask use, a law passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Kim Reynolds, is now blocked by a preliminary court-imposed injunction until a lawsuit filed by the Iowa Arc and the American Civil Liberties Union makes its way to court. Some larger school districts have again mandated the use of masks in schools, but the vast majority of school districts in Iowa have followed the state mandate to prevent local control over the use of masks in schools. schools.

The Biden administration is now proposing to force large employers to vaccinate their employees. Some already are. An article I co-authored in 2014, “Employment Status Matters,” based on a statewide survey of Iowa, found that self-employed workers still had prevention and quality of life scores. higher than the high scores of people employed by an organization. These data, collected at a time before public health measures were politicized, suggest that the vast majority of all employers would follow such a federal mandate. However, Reynolds has vowed to oppose this outstanding Labor Department rule.

The Biden administration has also aggressively researched COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 5 to 11, and federal regulators are expected to approve emergency use of a vaccine in this age group soon.

Following: Pediatrician and President of Iowa Immunizes: Many Reasons Children Can Get COVID-19 Vaccines

It is hoped that Reynolds will take this opportunity to protect the children of Iowa. Together with the federal employer’s proposed vaccine mandate, immunizing children and thereby reducing the community spread of COVID-19 would provide the opportunity to significantly advance the control of this pandemic, support economic recovery and to return to a more normal community life.

Dr. James A. Merchant is a former director of the NIOSH / CDC Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, and Professor Emeritus and Founding Dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa.


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Joseph D. Whitman

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