Iowa has been testing fewer people for COVID-19 each day than it had since mid-May, on average, the New York Times reported.
That may be one factor in a sharp dip in new cases reported Tuesday, the newspaper noted.
The Times’ database shows Iowa had averaged 3,470 tests per day as of Monday, based on a week of data. The last time the number of tests fell that low was 3,329 on May 15, as the pandemic spread across Iowa.
Iowa’s average number of tests per day has fallen steadily since hitting 7,375 on Nov. 14, according to the Times.
Pat Garrett, spokesman for Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Reynolds detailed positive signs the virus is waning in the state. Over the past seven days, she said, “Iowa ranked 35th nationally in the number of new COVID cases and 39th in its average daily case rate per 100,000 population. Hospitalizations continue to trend down and are approaching pre-November levels and 81% of all Iowans who have had the virus are now recovered.”
Iowa has seen a 23% drop in daily cases over the past two weeks, but the drop in tests could be part of the reason, the Times reported. Iowa had 1,407 new cases reported Monday, while averaging 1,691 cases a day over the past week.
The Iowa Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported that 1,322,680 individuals have been tested in Iowa since the pandemic began.
The state looks at a 14-day rolling total of tests. In mid-May, the state was recording 21,000 tests over a two-week period. That rose to 193,631 over the two weeks ending Nov. 22 before falling to 124,557 through Dec. 10 and then leveling off.
The state’s log of daily test totals shows 1,758 tests reported on May 15, and 14,088 on Monday. Sunday, the state reported 3,482 tests.
There is other evidence the surge in cases in Iowa may be continuing to wane. Hospitalizations hit 644 on Monday, down 31% in two weeks, the Times reported. There were no new deaths reported Monday, based on the Times’ database.
As of Tuesday, Iowa had recorded 269,203 cases and 3,653 deaths related to the pandemic, the state reported.
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported that vaccinations are set to begin at nursing homes next week. As of Tuesday, there were 136 COVID outbreaks at Iowa nursing homes. The outbreaks accounted for 5,405 cases and 1,137 deaths.
The state reported that all but 31 counties have test positivity rates under 15%, one of the thresholds that school districts use to consider requesting state permission to hold online classes. Monroe County has the highest rate at 25.4%, based on a 14-day average.