Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds holds a press conference on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, on Monday, May 11, 2020. (Photo Credit: Olivia Sun/The Des Moines Register)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds said that eastern Iowa had seen decreased viral activity while viral activity picks up in central Iowa and Northwest Iowa.

She noted that Eastern Iowa has begun to show downward trends in terms of virus activity, in particular Linn, Louisa, Johnson, and Washington counties. She also noted that Black Hawk County, where there was an outbreak at the Tyson Foods plant, is showing signs of stabilizing. She added that hospitalization rates in northeast and southeast Iowa are trending downward.

She said the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) strikes team has provided diagnostic and serological tests of 1324 staff and residents in about 115 long-term care facilities. She added another 9400 employees at 14 manufacturing facilities were tested with another 3000 employees probably tested this week.

Reynolds added, however, that virus activity is increasing in the Des Moines area and Sioux City area. She noted that in both areas, they are conducting increased surveillance testing in long-term care facilities and manufacturing plants, as well as have Test Iowa sites up and running.

She said they are also monitoring an increase in virus activity in Crawford County and set up a Test Iowa site in Denison on Saturday and are surveillance testing at long-term care facilities and manufacturing plants. 

She said the state continues to monitor the number of resources available in those areas. Reynolds also stated that two Test Iowa sites in Davenport and Ottumwa would launch later this week.

Since Caffeinated Thoughts reported the count of COVID-19 cases on Thursday, IDPH reported 1,314 additional cases that Reynolds attributes to more testing. The statewide total now stands at 12,373 cases in 93 counties equal to one in 252 Iowans testing positive. Approximately 79 percent of the cases fall between Iowans 18 to 60 years of age. 

IDPH also reports that 271 Iowans have died of COVID-19, 40 more since Thursday, with 87 percent of those deaths being among Iowans 61 years-of-age or older. They also report that 5,249 Iowans have recovered with a recovery rate of 42 percent of those who tested positive.

One in 40 Iowans have received testing, with 77,792 tested. 

Polk County, where Des Moines is located, now has the most cases with 2,370 cases or 486 cases per 100,000 residents. As of the end of the day on Sunday, there were 112 hospitalized. Regional Medical Coordination Center (RMCC) in Region 1 (south-central Iowa) says they have 177 Iowans (up eight from Saturday) hospitalized with 14 new admissions, 47 in ICU, and 33 on ventilators. They report 1,010 inpatient beds (43 percent of beds), 100 ICU beds (68 percent of the ICU beds), and 195 ventilators (72 percent of ventilators) available. 

Woodbury County follows, with 1,680 cases or 1,635 cases per 100,000 residents. There has been concern about the capability of Sioux City’s healthcare system that has two hospitals serving several counties in northwest and western Iowa, as well as, several Nebraska and South Dakota communities. 

Several Siouxland residents expressed concern to Caffeinated Thoughts about how accurate the hospitalization rate was, whether it accounted for patients from Nebraska and South Dakota, and whether or not each hospital had enough staff trained to manage patients on ventilators. 

This community, out of all of Iowa’s communities, appeared to have the most stress on their health care system. 

Caffeinated Thoughts reached out to MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center and UnityPoint St. Luke’s Medical Center.

“The MercyOne Siouxland surge plan allows us to flex our hospital to 150 percent of normal capacity. That will take us to approximately 300 beds, with a good portion of that being ICU capable,” the hospital told Caffeinated Thoughts in a statement on Friday. “Evidence that our surge plan is working is that we are not near capacity at this time and do not need to transfer patients out of our facility for care.”

St. Luke’s never directly responded to Caffeinated Thoughts‘ inquiry about hospital capacity. The Sioux City Journal reported the hospital did transfer some non-COVID-19 patients to other facilities. Two sources confirmed to Caffeinated Thoughts up to four COVID-19 patients were transferred to Omaha. 

It appears the numbers are headed in the right direction for now. Both hospitals reported 97 hospitalizations on Thursday, 82 hospitalizations on Friday, and today reports 74 hospitalizations. However, IDPH said 57 Woodbury County residents were hospitalized on Sunday.

The Region 3 RMCC (that includes Sioux City and northwest Iowa) reports that on Sunday, there were 79 hospitalized down from 104 on Saturday with only four new admissions, the region has 38 in ICU, down four from Saturday, and 29 are on ventilators. 

They also report the region has 555 inpatient beds (almost 57 percent of beds), 105 ICU beds (73 percent of ICU beds), and 67 ventilators (nearly 68 of the ventilators) available in the region.

Listen to the full press conference:

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