DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds was expected to make an announcement on Tuesday about the public health emergency declaration restrictions set to expire on Friday. She said on Monday morning to expect an announcement on Tuesday. Instead, Reynolds announced she was not ready to make that announcement during her press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa.
Reynolds, starting on May 1, started to open up the state slowly, and the governor is expected to announce additional reopenings, as well as the possible extension of some restrictions.
“I’m still reviewing some information with the Department of Public Health and my team today, and we’ll be announcing the new changes tomorrow,” she said. “I know that Iowans and businesses are eager to know what’s next. But as I’ve said all along, these decisions must be made carefully and driven by data.”
Reynolds also noted the uptick in new positive cases of COVID-19 and said she wanted to provide some context.
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced 539 additional positive cases of COVID-19 raising the statewide total to 12,912 in 94 counties. The governor said that 319 of those cases were among Iowans tied to a processing plant in Nebraska, who tested positive between April 28 and April 30.
Reynolds said that those who tested positive were informed shortly after testing, but there was a delay relaying information to IDPH. The outbreak at the Tyson Foods plant in Dakota City, Neb., is responsible for driving Woodbury County’s COVID-19 count high. IDPH reports 1,988 cases in that county, the second-highest count in the state.
IDPH also reports an additional 18 Iowans died as a result of COVID-19 for a total of 289 deaths, with 88 percent of those being Iowans who are 61-years-old or older. They also report that 5,618 Iowans have recovered for a recovery rate of almost 44 percent among those who tested positive.
Currently, one in 38 Iowans tested for COVID-19, representing 81,288 tests conducted. The state is still not at full capacity with the Test Iowa initiative, which is supposed to raise the daily capacity of the State Hygenic Lab in Iowa City to 5,000 tests a day. The most tests conducted in one day, IDPH reports is 3,806. This week IDPH reports testing 3,623 Iowans on Sunday and 3,492 on Monday.
Reynolds announced an eighth Test Iowa site would open on Saturday in Storm Lake. Currently, there are Test Iowa sites in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Denison, Des Moines, Sioux City, and Waterloo. Reynolds announced an additional Test Iowa site opening this week in Ottumwa.
Additionally, IDPH sent strike teams to conduct testing in Allamakee, Dallas, Dubuque, Louisa, Muscatine, Pottawattamie, Tama, and Wright counties.
“Our state has mobilized with multiple partners and options to significantly expand testing scale case investigation, all which enables us to track virus activity across the state and deploy targeted strategies to contain and manage it,” Reynolds said. “For now, we must learn to adjust life and business accordingly so that we can live, work, and play the way that we want while continuing to prioritize the health of Iowans and to get our economy back on track.”
Iowa also received 400 vials of remdesivir, an investigational antiviral drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration last week for national distribution for the treatment of those hospitalized with severe symptoms of COVID-19. In clinical trials, it was shown to reduce the recovery time for some patients.
“The distribution to Iowa is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ latest effort to provide 14,400 vials of the medicine to state health departments,” Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of IDPH, said.
The state hygienic laboratory will distribute the 400 vials provided to Iowa based on hospitalizations and ICU patients in an area, disease activity trends including new cases, and resources and staff to manage patients.
“We’re consulting with infectious disease clinicians, pharmacists, and hospitals across the state in establishing these criteria as we work to quickly distribute the medicine,” Reisetter added.
Watch full press conference below: