DES MOINES, Iowa — With many holiday gatherings around the corner, the number of Iowa COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization is growing while people needed to care for them is shrinking. As of Wednesday the state’s positivity rate hit 12%.

Iowa reached a grim record for the year Wednesday of 777 hospitalizations and there is an urgent need for help in the intensive care unit as the number of patients in the ICU sits at 185. Of those patients, 84% are unvaccinated. It has required the Iowa Department of Public Health to make a nationwide call for 100 health professionals.

IDPH public information officer Sarah Ekstrand could not be reached for an interview but did provide a written statement.

“The state is contracting for 100 health care professionals (nurses and respiratory therapists) to support 17 facilities throughout the state that provide 1, 2, and 3 trauma level care. providing supplemental staff to these facilities will enhance capacity, reduce ed wait room times, facilitate additional transfers of critically ill patients and reduce strain at lower level trauma care facilities allowing their teams to focus on care for those who are less critically ill.”

Sarah Ekstrand, IDPH Public Information Officer

Those seventeen facilities include two level-one trauma care facilities in Des Moines and Iowa City. Two level-two facilities in Des Moines and Sioux City and 13 across the state from places like Davenport and Ames to Waterloo and Council Bluffs.

Ekstrand did not comment on the pay for these traveling health care professionals but did say federal funds from the most appropriate funding source will be used.