DES MOINES, Iowa – On Wednesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that businesses such as restaurants, fitness centers, salons, barbershops, massage therapists, malls, libraries, and race tracks may reopen statewide at 5:00 am on Friday following public health guidelines.
“Over the last two weeks, we have continued to monitor virus activity statewide and in the 22 counties where restrictions remained in place, and we’ve seen significant progress. The majority of these counties have achieved a consistent downward trend in virus activity, and others have stabilized and are beginning to trend down. In a few counties, including Polk and Woodbury, virus activity increased during the last two weeks,” she said during her press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa.
“We were intentionally testing in those communities, which is driving positive case numbers up in the short term. But it’s also allowing us to identify exactly where the virus is most active, track its spread and scope, and put measures in place to contain it delivering the long term results that we want and need,” Reynolds added.
She previously allowed those businesses to reopen under public health guidance in 77 of Iowa’s 99 counties on May 1. Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fayette, Henry, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Linn, Louisa, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Tama, Washington, and Woodbury counties had their closings extended to May 15.
Reynolds also already reopened retail stores, campgrounds, drive-in movie theaters, tanning facilities, and medical spas statewide implementing guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health on May 8.
Businesses reopening under the new proclamation must only operate at 50 percent of their room capacity, implement social distancing practices, and host no group activities larger than ten people. Restaurants may seat groups no larger than six people. Race tracks may not have spectators.
Reynolds also extended the closures of bars, casinos, theaters, entertainment centers, senior citizen and adult daycare facilities, museums, skate rinks and parks, swimming pools, and playgrounds through May 27.
She also extended restrictions on groups larger than ten for social, recreational, leisure, and sports through May 27. They still recommend those at risk to stay home, and Iowans who are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19 to self-isolate.
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reports 377 additional cases of COVID-19 totaling 13,289. A total of 85,719 tests were conducted, representing one in 36 Iowans tested. A total of 4,472 Iowans were tested on Tuesday.
IDPH also announced that 5,954 Iowans recovered from COVID-19 for a recovery rate of almost 45 percent of those who tested positive.
An additional 17 Iowans died yesterday, raising Iowa’s number of deaths due to COVID-19 to 306. Reynolds noted that the number of deaths is a “lagging indicator.”
Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of IDPH, explained, “Typically what we see is that once somebody gets diagnosed if they are going to be prone to more severe illness, that severity really displays itself about seven or eight days into their period of illness. And so those hospitalizations and then the deaths that occur, they do happen, you know, after the positive case counts have been reported.”
“We do think we’ve peaked in some areas, and we’ll probably continue to see peaks and in other areas as testing continues to increase,” she added.
Reynolds said the mitigation period gave the state time to validate that the regional health care systems had the inpatient beds, ICU beds, and ventilators to manage the care of COVID-19 patients and accept more patients if needed.
“We met that criteria, and we’re able to monitor that on a daily basis. And in stabilizing our healthcare resources, we’ve moved to the recovery phase, gradually shifting our focus from mitigation to containing and managing virus activity,” she said.
There are currently 388 COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide, up slightly from 385 reported on Tuesday. There were 36 new admissions, 133 patients in ICU, and 101 patients on ventilators. There are 3,620 inpatient beds, 448 ICU beds, and 707 ventilators available statewide.
Reynolds noted that they see Polk County, which is considered a national hot spot, “somewhat stabilize” in terms of its hospitalization rate. Region 1 that includes Polk County, has 180 patients hospitalized (119 of those in Polk County), up one from Tuesday, and has 13 new admissions, down four from what was reported on Tuesday.
Watch her press conference below:
Read her proclamation below: