Daniel Diekema (U-I photo)

Iowa’s coronavirus cases are spreading so quickly, the state now has one of the world’s worst outbreaks, by some metrics.

As of Sunday, Iowa had more new COVID-19 cases per capita than any other state in the U.S., according to the New York Times, which says new cases are spreading fastest in the university towns of Ames and Iowa City.

Daniel Diekema heads the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.  “I’m extremely concerned. I think we should all be,” Diekema says. “I think we’re now in the unenviable position of being one of the global hotspots for COVID-19 spread.”

While the surge in Iowa City is tied to U-I students returning to campus, Diekema points to university leaders and state officials for reopening schools and businesses too soon.  “Although right now it seems mostly concentrated in the 18-to-24 year population,” he says, “how soon before it begins to expand into other groups that are at higher risk for severe disease?”

Despite the escalating spread in Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds has refused to issue a state-wide mask mandate and has maintained that local governments are not legally authorized to do so.

(By Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio)