DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, claimed that Des Moines hospitals no longer had beds for emergencies blaming Iowans who are not vaccinated for COVID-19.
“Well, the numbers tell me that we’re going to see a spike and most most likely that’s going to occur in the fall. A lot of people were saying that’s going to be October. The sad thing is, not only is this a COVID issue, it’s just an overall healthcare issue. We have hospitals right here in Des Moines that said, they have no more beds left you have a heart attack, guess what? You’re out of luck. Your child gets in a car accident. Unfortunately, they’re out of luck,” Axne told Dave Price with WHO-TV for his “The Insiders” program on Sunday.
She then pointed to those who are unvaccinated.
“We’re not having enough people vaccinated in Iowa, and those who are vaccinated aren’t land ending up in the hospital at nearly the degree that those who are unvaccinated are. And what’s happening right now is those unvaccinated people are taking up beds that Iowans desperately need. So I really just urge everybody to get vaccinated, because if it’s not you, it could be your neighbor who suffers a heart attack and then can’t even get a bed at the hospital,” Axne said.
Price asked for clarification that hospitals in Des Moines are now at that point, and she doubled down.
“We have some hospitals that are at that point. Yes, we and there are certainly hospitals across the country that have absolutely reached that point. And as this continues to spread, we’re going to see hospitals all across the nation with this issue. Yeah. So this is really where we’re at,” Axne answered.
Except hospitalizations are nowhere near the number, they were in November when the state saw its daily peak, 1,527, on November 17, 2020. Hospitalizations are up statewide, with the last reported daily number is 396 on August 18 compared to 88 one month ago. In Region 1, that includes Des Moines, there were only 95 reported COVID-19 hospitalizations on August 18, up from 29 one month prior.
Even when COVID-19 hit its peak in November in Iowa, hospitals retained bed space for emergency patients.
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reports 601 inpatient beds available, representing 27.33 percent of the region’s inpatient beds. This percentage indicates an increase in other types of hospitalizations in Des Moines.
Marcy Peterson, Central Iowa spokesperson for MercyOne, told The Iowa Capital Dispatch, other hospitalizations are on the rise, and the stress isn’t just due to bed space but staffing shortages.
“In addition to an increased number of COVID-19 cases and spread of the delta variant, hospitals across the country are dealing with traumas, experiencing multiple types of illness, and strains of illness typically only seen in colder months. This demand is coupled with a reduced number of staff to care for patients,” she said.
WHO-TV reported they could not find a hospital in Iowa that was unable to take emergency patients.
Also, older Iowans, age 60 and older, make up almost half of the hospitalizations at 46 percent, according to IDPH, despite being the most vaccinated making up nearly 40 percent of those vaccinated in Iowa. IDPH reports 80 percent of Iowans who are 65 or older are vaccinated, and 73 percent of Iowans between the ages of 60 and 64 are vaccinated. Iowans in their 50s make up 18 percent of hospitalizations (just below of hospitalizations of Iowans in their 80s), but IDPH reports 62 percent of Iowans in that age bracket are hospitalized.
There is no data publicly available that indicates the vaccination status of those hospitalized in Iowa. IDPH, as of Monday, reports that 48 percent of Iowans are vaccinated.
State Senator Zach Nunn, R-Bondurant, who is running in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, blasted Axne’s comments.
“Congresswoman Cindy Axne recently made fear-mongering and totally incorrect comments about the state of our healthcare system in Iowa. She called our hospitals “overrun” by Covid patients and discouraged Iowans from seeking care because of the fake situation she invented,” he said.
“As a military veteran, I always learned it’s best to keep a steady hand and always tell the truth. Rep. Cindy Axne apparently learned the opposite lesson at some point. Her lies and total fear mongering are causing real harm,” Nunn added. “According to Health Care Cost Institute, Mammograms and Pap smears are down 80% since 2019. Childhood immunizations for other diseases like HPV are down ~60 percent. Colonoscopies were down by as much as 90% last year.”
“The pandemic is already scaring Iowans away from seeking life-saving preventative care and health screenings. It is absolutely shameful that we have a Congresswoman who is stoking these fears with total lies about the state of our healthcare system. If Rep. Cindy Axne has any decency, she herself will publicly correct her lie about Iowa hospitals being “overrun” with Covid and encourage Iowans to go back to seeking life-saving preventative care,” he concluded.
Axne’s office told WHO-TV that Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines has confirmed they are suspending elective surgeries. However, elective surgeries are not emergency procedures. They also referenced MercyOne stating they were running “short on space,” but that was also due to a spike in other hospitalizations and a staffing shortage.
MercyOne did not say they could not take emergency patients.