Why the XBB.1.5 COVID variant is spreading across the US so quickly
Why are we still seeing new COVID-19 variants like XBB.1.5? Here’s what we know.
Just the FAQs, USA TODAY
Most of the typical COVID-19 indicators declined in Iowa this week, a sign the pandemic may be receding after a second consecutive week of decreasing cases and hospitalizations, according to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The state health department reported fewer new cases this week than it has in any week since October 2022. Iowa added 1,690 new COVID-19 cases to its tally, IDPH said, or an average of about 241 per day over the past week. That’s down from an average of about 314 per day in the week before.
The Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Authority’s latest update on coronavirus concentration in the city’s sewage, which has historically been an indicator of where the pandemic may be heading, showed the effective virus concentration in the area’s wastewater has broadly been trending down since late December, after a steady rise in the months before.
While the new XBB.1.5 variant is now the dominant strain of the virus nationwide — responsible for 43% of cases in the week ending Jan. 14, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — it remains relatively rare in Iowa. The CDC said the XBB.1.5 variant accounted for about 9% of new cases in the region including Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, up from about 5% last week.
The XBB.1.5 strain appears to be more contagious than previous strains of the omicron variant, but so far there’s been no indication that it’s significantly more lethal.
Federal health department data showed the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Iowa dropped this week, down from 222 to 177. That’s the fewest COVID-19 hospitalizations in a weekly update since mid-November 2022.
Of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 this week, 17 required intensive care for complications from the disease, six fewer than last week and the same number as the week prior.
The state added 30 new COVID-19 deaths to its total for the pandemic this week. That total now stands at 10,538. (Most of the deaths the state health department reported this week likely occurred earlier than the past seven days, as it takes time for health department to verify and publicly report COVID-19 deaths.)
The latest COVID-19 numbers in Iowa
The latest data in Iowa since March 2020 for the pandemic, as of midnight Jan. 18, compared with one week earlier:
- Confirmed cases: 892,558, an increase of 1,690.
- Deaths: 10,538, an increase of 30.
Iowa is updating COVID-19 vaccination data once per month. As of Jan. 9, 60.0% of the state’s population was fully vaccinated against COVID-19, having received either both doses of a two-dose sequence or one dose of a single-dose sequence.
How many people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Iowa?
Note: Hospitalization data for COVID-19 is no longer available through the Iowa Department of Public Health. The data below is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Hospitalizations: 177, down from 222 one week ago.
- Patients in intensive care: 17, down from 23.