Gov. Kim Reynolds gives an update on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. (Photo Credit: Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Des Moines Register)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds said that COVID-19 modeling is only as good as its assumptions.

She made that remark after asked about the projected number of deaths in the state during Reynolds’ daily press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa. 

Reynolds noted that the Iowa Department of Public Health was working with the University of Iowa on modeling that takes into account the mitigation steps she has enacted through her public health emergency declarations. 

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation released an interactive projection for each state.

It projects that Iowa could see almost 1400 deaths from COVID-19 by August. It also anticipates Iowa will reach its peak resource use by April 30 and will be 11 beds short.

However, the projection assumes Iowa has not closed schools and closed non-essential businesses, which the state has done. 

Sarah Reisetter, Deputy Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, reiterated what Reynolds said addressing the University of Washington projections.

“I think like with any other model out there, there are assumptions that are made. And so our goal in all of this is to prevent illness and death in our state. And so we’re making the recommendations to Governor Reynolds that we feel like needs to be made. And that includes some of the things that she has done here. Because we want to protect our most vulnerable Iowans, and so we’ll continue to make the recommendations that we feel are necessary to do that,” she said.

Reynolds emphasized again that her decisions on based on the data that she has received, but has not shared specific data only some criteria that they consider. Criteria that she mentioned before, such as:

  • The percentage of the population who are 65 or older
  • The percentage of reported cases requiring hospitalization
  • The rate of infection among Iowans in the past 14 days
  • The number of outbreaks in settings like long-term facilities where the elderly and those with underlying health conditions live.

The Reynolds administration has also not provided any projections for how many cases the state could see or when the peak for cases will arrive, only saying that it will be in the next two to three weeks.

Reynolds also projected that she would extend her recommendation for school closings and potentially make other changes in a public health emergency declaration she’ll release on Thursday.

Listen to her press conference.

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