A new website, the product of a collaboration among Iowa newspapers, will serve as a central source of Iowa COVID-19 data.
The project is being led by the Iowa Newspaper Association and spearheaded by the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Des Moines Register, Iowa City Daily Iowan and Iowa Falls Times Citizen.
Iowa decommissioned its coronavirus data website, coronavirus.iowa.gov, on Feb. 16 and moved disease reports to the Iowa Department of Public Health website to mirror reporting of other respiratory infections. The change coincided with the expiration of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ COVID-19 disaster declaration, which had diverted state resources to pandemic response since March 2020.
The project is intended to pull together in one place for Iowans as much of the same information as the state health department previously gathered on its website, organizers said.
“Iowa’s 250 newspapers are focused on providing information that helps their readers make informed decisions,” said Susan Patterson Plank, Iowa Newspaper Association Executive Director. “This project pulls together in one place for Iowans as much of the same information as the state health department previously gathered on its website.”
While the state’s new COVID-19 reporting page includes information about new COVID-19 cases and deaths at the state and county levels, as well as vaccination rates, it no longer reports data for hospitalizations and long term care facility outbreaks. Links on the webpage direct users to that information on the websites of U.S. Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The news outlets’ website – iowacoviddata.com – pulls data from the Iowa Department of Public Health and HHS. It provides information about new COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations at the state and county levels, and includes a map that reports new cases per capita for each county over a previous seven-day period.
Due to how the health and human services department reports hospitalization data, the number of hospitalizations shown on the new website will be an average taken over the previous week, based on the county where the hospital is located. For example, if someone lives in Washington County but is admitted to a Johnson County hospital with COVID-19, the data will show that as a hospitalization in Johnson County.
The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has been a leading indicator of the level of strain on the health care system and the severity of the pandemic. This new website aims to present that information alongside the broader statistics still available through the state’s public health department, such as new cases and deaths.
The number of new COVID-19 cases is likely greater than the state is reporting due to the increase at home tests, which are rarely reported to health departments.
The website will be updated weekly on Wednesdays, coinciding with the state’s release of new data.