DES MOINES, IOWA — As predicted by public health officials, the holiday season and large family gatherings have lead to a spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths in the state of Iowa.

The latest statistics from the Iowa Department of Public Health again highlight that this has become a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” as the overwhelming majority of serious cases are among those who’ve declined to follow sound advice from scores of medical experts to get vaccinated.

According to the semi-weekly report posted online on Wednesday, there have been 19,045 positive cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the last 7 days in Iowa – that’s nearly 3,000 cases per day. The statewide positivity rate has climbed to 14.9% over the last 14 days and 18% over the last week.

A total of 8,019 Iowans have now died from the coronavirus in the last year. That includes 161 deaths that have been confirmed in the last seven days. Those deaths occurred over the last six weeks.

The number of Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19 is climbing again – lead by those who’ve chosen to not get vaccinated. There are currently 792 patients hospitalized in Iowa with COVID-19 – 75.9% of whom are unvaccinated. There are 161 COVID-19 patients in Iowa hospitals – 82% of whom are unvaccinated.

The state is also reporting four new outbreaks of COVID-19 at long term care centers. There are currently 25 such outbreaks.

Free testing is available still through the Test Iowa program. You can also check with your health care provider or local public health department for information on testing options. If you believe you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, call before visiting any medical office.