The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Number of deaths stabilize in JoCo following the pandemic

The JoCo Medical Examiner Department reported decrease in death rates compared to the COVID-19 years.
Janelle+Greiger%2C+a+paramedic+at+the+Johnson+County+Ambulance+Service%2C+prepares+to+respond+to+a+call+on+Friday%2C+Sept.+23%2C+2022.+The+service+explained+it+is+a+hit+or+miss+when+it+comes+to+how+many+calls+they+receive.
Isabella Cervantes
Janelle Greiger, a paramedic at the Johnson County Ambulance Service, prepares to respond to a call on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. The service explained it is a hit or miss when it comes to how many calls they receive.

After roughly three years of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson County is experiencing relief from fatalities. 

The Johnson County Medical Examiner Department reported a decline in the number of deaths after a two-year spike. On average, the department experiences a 4 to 7 percent growth in case volume on an annual basis. In 2020 and 2021, the department saw an increase of about 20 percent. 

Clayton Schuneman, administrative director of the medical examiners department, said the pandemic years were an anomaly and the department is observing that trends are normalizing, and overall numbers are returning to what is considered normal. 

Schuneman said the numbers are decreasing because COVID-19 deaths aren’t occurring at the same frequency compared to previous years. The department observed the decreased in deaths of individuals beginning in the second quarter of 2022, and the numbers continue to stabilize in 2023. 

Since the year is not yet finished, the medical examiner department does not have finalized statistics, but Schuneman said the data trend shows a continued decrease.

According to the department’s 2020 annual report, there were 2,066 deaths in Johnson County. It was determined that 217 people died from COVID-19, which was the most frequently reported cause of death that year. 

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Typically, heart disease is almost exclusively the county’s No.1 reported cause of death. 

Of the COVID-19-related deaths, 47 were residents of Johnson County, making up the largest population of total COVID-19-related deaths reported to the department. In 2022, a reported 2,144 deaths occurred in the county with 123 deaths caused by the virus. 

“That was a nightmarish several years, I think, for everyone, right? Not just in our industry, but like, just everybody, you know, the health care system in general,” Schuneman said. “So yeah, very happy to see these trends kind of returning to normal.”

Dave Wilson, Johnson County Emergency Management coordinator, said his department is experiencing a similar stabilization. Wilson said the department has not needed to step in to provide additional support to the hospitals as they did during the pandemic. 

Samuel Jarvis, Johnson County Community health division manager, also highlighted the trend of deaths going down. He said the community has seen less granularity in terms of COVID-19 in our community. 

Jarvis said the county will continue to provide guidance, awareness, and education to allow residents to make decisions about their health. 

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About the Contributors
Roxy Ekberg, News Reporter
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Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.
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Isabella is the Photo Editor at The Daily Iowan. She is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and minoring in cinematic arts. Isabella joined The Daily Iowan in the spring semester and she loves taking portraits and connecting with people.