Gov. Kim Reynolds gives an update on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa on Monday, March 30, 2020. (Photo Credit: Zach Boyden-Holmes/ The Des Moines Register)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds highlighted Iowa businesses that were helping address the national shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During her press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center on Monday, she pointed out that Iowans during times of hardship.

” For now, we must adjust to a new normal one that’s uncomfortable. It’s inconvenient, and it’s uncertain. And this is not an easy time. But if we know something about Iowans, it’s that we are at our best when times are tough. We see it during harvest time when area farmers come together to help get the crop out of the field for struggling farm family. We see it during times of natural disasters when people from across the state show up with donations of food, clothing, and shelter because it’s the right thing to do. And now, even as our resolve is being tested in ways like never before, Iowans are more determined than ever to step up and care for their own,” Reynolds said.

“Here in Iowa, private sector manufacturers and other partners are stepping up with offers to produce PPE or to donate the supplies, technology, and services to do so. Increasing the number of face shields available for frontline clinicians means that they can get greater flexibility with the type of mask used. Several Iowa companies are starting the production of face shields for healthcare systems and providers,” she added.

She noted that Metal Craft in Mason City and Wheaton Capital in Fairfield were working to produce face shields. She said that John Deere started producing face shields in several of their plants and donating them to health care providers. She stated that City Fab Lab was making face shields for the University of Iowa Hospitals. 

She added that manufactuerers like Winnebago Industries in Forest City were sewing masks and gowns. 

She shared that Eric Engelmann of NewBoCo in Cedar Rapids enlisted the help of his co-workers, his network, and an assembly line of 3D printers to create and deliver more than 3000 face shields to healthcare providers in Iowa.

She noted that DMACC has also donated over 4000 masks to Broadlawns Hospital in Des Moines, and Kum & Go donated masks for distribution. 

Reynolds also called on Iowans to help.

“So now I’m asking also for your help. If you sew, we need your time and talent to produce fabric face masks to protect Iowa’s frontline workers,” Reynolds said. “These masks can be used in healthcare settings under a face shield. If properly cleaned and disinfected, they can be worn multiple times and will help preserve other medical grade PPE. Once made, you can donate them to the healthcare facility of your choice, just call first to find out how and where to drop them off,” she said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health provides additional guidance

In light of President Donald Trump recommending that Americans continue to practice social distancing until April 30, Reynolds said she would review the steps the state has taken later this week after the federal government issues their formal guidance. 

She also encouraged Iowans to get outside as the weather turns nice but to practice social distancing.

Reynolds also said the state was increasing its testing capability and would receive, at minimum, 15 mobile testing machines developed by Abbot that can give results within 15 minutes. She noted that the state could mobilize those to test healthcare and longer-term care facility workers.

She noted that COVID-19 cases could seek a second peak in the fall, and that is the reason she held off on a shelter-in-place order.

“This is a marathon. And so, if you keep asking people to do more and more and more, and we’re not basing it on data, then at some point, they really are not going to take you serious,” Reynolds said. “It’s like, well, we’ve asked too much of people, and their willingness to accept and do what they need to do is really pushed to the max. And so we’re trying to be mindful of that and, and take the right and appropriate steps but do them you know, where it’s needed and with the data that we’ve been given.”

Asked about the enforcement of her public health emergency declaration, she said, “I’m counting on Iowans to do the right thing, and from what I have seen, they are.” 

She said that local law enforcement and the Iowa Department of Public Safety were primarily responsible for the non-medical aspects of her order. The Iowa Board of Medicine would enforce the suspension of non-essential/elective surgical and dental procedures, Reynolds noted.

Listen to the entire press conference below:

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