Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds gave a press conference on COVID-19 and the state’s response at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, on Friday, April 24, 2020. (Photo Credit: Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds announced during her press conference on Friday morning that she is lifting the suspension of elective surgical and medical procedures giving hospitals and physicians the ability to reschedule those on Monday. She also announced that she would permit farmers’ markets to resume limited operations with appropriate public health precautions.

“The coordination and the collaboration between providers systems and the state gives us the confidence that we can effectively care for COVID-19 patients, while also providing procedures to improve health and quality of life for others,” she said.

“So this is our first step of many to reopening Iowa and getting life and business back to normal as soon as possible,” Reynolds added.

She said that she would make additional announcements on Monday regarding the first phase of reopening Iowa.

“And if we remain committed to working together and doing the right thing, I believe that we will start and be able to responsibly open Iowa backup,” Reynolds said.

She did indicate that in most cases, there will not be an initial statewide release of restrictions.

“You’re not going to see a statewide release on some of these areas that we’re going to be opening up; they will be somewhat targeted,” Reynolds said, noting there are parts of the state that have little to no cases of COVID-19.

Her order signed on Friday says hospitals and providers must have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) and have a supply chain that does not include the state’s stockpile to resume non-essential and elective surgical and medical procedures. They must also have a plan to conserve PPE following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Iowa Department of Public Health guidelines.

Reynolds’ order also states that hospitals and providers must have a plan to quickly test symptomatic patients and staff for COVID-19 to mitigate potential clusters of infection. Hospitals are still required to accept and treat COVID-19 patients and not transfer them. The order also states that hospitals must reserve at least 30 percent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 30 percent of medical/surgical beds for COVID-19 patients.

Providers and hospitals that are no longer able to meet these criteria are ordered to cease elective and non-essential procedures.

Reynolds’ order states that farmers’ markets may only permit vendors with farm products and food. They are to eliminate common seating areas. Entertainment and activities provided during farmers’ markets are prohibited. The order requires vendors’ booths are to be spaced at least six feet apart.

Reynolds’ order also requires farmers’ markets to implement reasonable measures to ensure the social distancing of vendors and customers, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of the transmission of COVID-19. The measures must be consistent with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“Any other farmers market, festival, or community gathering of ten or more people that does not comply with these requirements is prohibited. Customers of farmers markets are strongly encouraged to engage in social distancing, wear a mask or other protective face-covering if unable to maintain a distance of six feet from others, practice good hygiene practices, and attend the market alone without other family members,” the order reads.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 521 new cases of COVID-19 for a statewide total of 4,445. They also reported 2190 new negative tests for a total of 29,783 negative tests. Reynolds noted the increase in daily tests, running 2712 on Thursday, which accounts for the increased number of positive cases.

Iowa has tested a total of 31,973 Iowans, meaning one in 98 Iowans have been tested for COVID-19.

Reynolds said that 30 percent of the positive cases are related to manufacturing, and 15 percent are related to health care workers.

To date, 1604 Iowans have recovered for a recovery rate of 36 percent among those who tested positive.

Eleven additional Iowans have died as a result of COVID-19 for a total of 107 deaths attributed to this pandemic. One middle-age (41-60) and two older adults (61-80) in Black Hawk County, one elderly adult (81+) in Bremer County, two older and two elderly adults in Linn County, two elderly adults in Polk County, and one older adult in Scott County passed away.

IDPH also announced an additional long-term care facility outbreak in Polk County, Mitchell Village Care Center reported five cases, for a total of 13 outbreaks.

The Regional Medical Coordination Centers reported that 278 Iowans are hospitalized with 44 new admits in the previous 24 hours. Of those hospitalized, 104 are in ICU, and 60 are on ventilators. They report there are 3,896 inpatient beds, 534 ICU beds, and 682 ventilators available statewide.

Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of IDPH, warned that with more testing, there would be additional cases. She added that IDPH projects Iowa’s peak is still two to three weeks away.

Listen to the press conference:

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