Iowan dies after 15-day wait for a hospital bed amid COVID surge

Dale Weeks’ family believes he was an indirect victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The retired Iowa school superintendent died in late November, nearly a month after he was diagnosed with sepsis, a dangerous, blood-borne infection unrelated to the coronavirus. 

His daughters think he might have survived if he’d been admitted immediately to a large medical center, where he could have received advanced testing and prompt surgery.

But he stayed for 15 days at Newton’s relatively small hospital because the bigger facilities said they couldn’t spare a bed for him, his family says. Iowa’s short-staffed hospitals have been jammed for months with patients, including people severely sickened by COVID-19.

“It’s infuriating that people who are not vaccinated are clogging it up,” said Jenifer Owenson of Des Moines, who is one of Weeks’ four children.