DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds, during a press conference on Thursday at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, indicated that Iowa’s strategy for dealing with COVID-19 has shifted. On Wednesday, Reynolds eased additional restrictions.
She, during the press conference, said the original intent of the mitigation efforts was to protect Iowans.
“There were so many unknowns, and it was about managing our resources. You know, their early projections were like thousands of Iowans were going to be impacted, hospitalized, the number of deaths, the number of potential vents that would be needed. So we just didn’t know, and we didn’t have a good understanding of what our resources were,” Reynolds said.
She said the state’s mitigation efforts and calling on Iowans to social distance bought the state time to find out where the inpatient beds, ICU beds, and ventilators were at a state and regional levels.
“I think now that we’ve done that, and now that we’ve seen, based on Iowa data, what some of our numbers are. So we’re changing our strategy.
Reynolds said they are looking at COVID-19 like they do the flu. “So we’re looking at containing and managing, which allows us to continue to open up in a very safe and responsible way,” she added.
Reynolds noted that nothing is open at full capacity, every business that can open after easing restrictions has to operate at 50 percent capacity. Also, except for religious services, gatherings are still limited to ten or fewer people.
“I’ve been so impressed with the businesses and the churches and everybody; they really are being very responsible. They’re making their decisions on whether they’re ready to open up if that’s the right thing for them to do and how they’re doing it. They’re paying a lot of attention and utilizing the Department of Public Health guidance that they have put in place for them to kind of walk through when they’re thinking about reopening. And so my hope is we continue to watch the trends and monitor the virus activity that we can continue to, to open things back up as we move forward,” she stated.
Reynolds also introduced updates to the state’s coronavirus website that provides Iowans with additional data, including the number of Test Iowa assessments by date. It allows Iowans to drill down on cases by county and is easier to navigate. It also shortens the lag in when data is provided. All data seen on the updated website will be from 12:00 am to 11:59 pm the day before.
She also highlighted her trip to meet with President Donald Trump and said that he invited Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the state epidemiologist and medical director for the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), to join the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
“One of the reasons I think that this is really exciting is because there was no representation from a state level on the Coronavirus Task Force. And so I think that will allow kind of a state’s perspective to be heard,” Reynolds stated.
IDPH reported that 366 additional Iowans tested positive for COVID-19 for a total of 11,059 cases in 91 counties representing one in 280 Iowans testing positive. Polk County has the most cases at 2,053 cases, followed by Woodbury County with 1,439 cases. There were 2,649 Iowans tested on Wednesday, for a total of 66,427 Iowans tested representing one in 46 Iowans tested.
Test Iowa is not yet at full capacity. Reynolds said when the new testing initiative was announced that Test Iowa would allow the state to test 3,000 Iowans in addition to the State Hygienic Lab’s current capacity, which should mean the state is testing 4,000-5,000 Iowans daily. Currently, 326,531 Iowans completed assessments.
Thus far, 231 Iowans have died as a result of COVID-19, and 87 percent of those deaths were Iowans 61 years of age or older. Also, 4,266 Iowans have recovered for a recovery rate of 39 percent among those testing positive.
There are 417 Iowans hospitalized currently, up four from Wednesday. There were 31 Iowans admitted for COVID-19 yesterday, which is down from Tuesday when 34 Iowans were admitted to the hospital. There are 151 Iowans in ICU, up one patient from yesterday, and 107 are on ventilators.
The Regional Medical Coordination Centers report that 46 percent of the state’s inpatient beds (3,770), 79 percent of the state’s ICU beds (583), and 74 percent of the state’s ventilators (678) are available.
Listen to the full press conference below: