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Iowa sees increase in people hospitalized with virus

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa public health officials reported a rise in coronavirus-related hospitalizations Thursday with a 36% increase in patients admitted in the last 24 hours and a slight increase in patients remaining in hospitals fighting the virus.

Iowa Department of Public Health Data shows 235 people remain hospitalized Thursday, up from 219 the day before. Admissions in the last 24 hours surged to 52, an increase from 38 in the previous 24-hour period.

The numbers are significantly lower than in early November when Iowa reached a peak of virus infections and was admitting more than 200 patients a day. But virus activity has increased in Iowa in recent weeks, a trend blamed in part to circulation of more easily spread variants first found in Europe and Brazil.

There also has been an increase in infected people being treated in intensive care units, with the state reporting 56 ICU patients on Thursday.

State officials Thursday reported 531 more confirmed positive cases and six additional deaths, increasing the total to 5,899 deaths.

The virus continues to spread most significantly among young adults, with 27% of the positive cases in the past seven days being among people between age 18 and 29.

In Iowa, 920,481 people are fully vaccinated, or 29% of the population, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

On Wednesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds voiced concern about vaccine hesitancy, saying it would hurt efforts to stop virus spread.