Iowa Nursing Home Outbreaks Jump, 23 Now Impacted

By Nikoel Hytrek

April 28, 2020

Despite repeated calls to protect the most vulnerable Iowans, COVID-19 cases at long-term care facilities continue to grow.

Today, the state reported outbreaks at seven more facilities in the state, bringing the total to 23, a jump from 16 total just two days ago.

“From the start we’ve taken significant and proactive mitigation measures to protect long-term care facilities and our most vulnerable Iowans who live there because we know that COVID-19 spreads quickly in congregate settings,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said at her press conference today.

Polk County leads the state with six facilities with outbreaks, two of those newly reported today. Outbreaks have also extended to Jasper (2), Dubuque (1) and Marshall (1) counties. Dallas County reported one more for a total of two.

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One of the new outbreaks is at Iowa Veterans’ Home in Marshalltown, a 500-bed facility where three employees tested positive for the virus three weeks ago. On Saturday, the facility reported confirmed cases among two residents.

Today, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 20 cases at the Iowa Veterans Home as of 6:30 p.m. yesterday. The facility houses 482 residents. Three weeks ago, it put more restrictions on people coming and going from the facility.

Last week, outbreaks at long-term care facilities increased steadily from Thursday, when 12 were reported, to Sunday, when the total was 16.

Throughout the crisis, deaths at these facilities have made up the majority of the deaths in Iowa. In the nine new deaths reported Tuesday, seven of the people were residents of long-term care facilities.

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Reynolds said more testing and strike teams will be sent to long-term care facilities, but didn’t name which facilities. She also said the state will continue to expand those efforts.

One of the first Test Iowa testing sites opened in Tama County last week. It was limited to residents and staff at Premier Estates of Toledo, a nursing home.

“As we begin to reopen Iowa safely and responsibly, testing, case management and tracing remain critical components to understanding and managing virus activity,” Reynolds said.

Testing is still limited to essential workers, people who have symptoms and those in close contact with people who have tested positive or have recently been somewhere where cases of the virus are widespread. But Reynolds has said the requirements will widen as testing sites and capabilities increase.

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The new facilities with outbreaks are:

  • Granger Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Dallas County
  • Dubuque Specialty Care in Dubuque County
  • Park Centre and Accura Healthcare of Newton-West in Jasper County
  • Iowa Veterans Home in Marshall County
  • Fleur Heights Center for Wellness & Rehab and University Park Nursing and Rehabilitation in Polk County


by Nikoel Hytrek
Posted 4/28/20

Iowa Starting Line is an independently-owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.

  • Nikoel Hytrek

    Nikoel Hytrek is Iowa Starting Line’s longest-serving reporter. She covers LGBTQ issues, abortion rights and all topics of interest to Iowans. Her biggest goal is to help connect the dots between policy and people’s real lives. If you have story ideas or tips, send them over to [email protected].

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