Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds holds a press conference on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. (Photo Credit: Olivia Sun/The Des Moines Register)

DES MOINES, Iowa – On Tuesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported an additional 408 COVID-19 cases for a total of 10,111 cases statewide. Gov. Kim Reynolds noted during her press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, that 80 percent of the cases were in the 22 counties still under the strictest mitigation restrictions. She also noted that 64 percent of the new cases are in Woodbury and Polk counties. 

One in 52 Iowans have been tested for COVID-19, with 60,569 tests completed. Iowa currently has a recovery rate of 35 percent, with 3,572 Iowans recovering from the disease. 

Unfortunately, Iowa saw the most deaths in one day to date with IDPH reporting 19 additional deaths for a total of 207 Iowans who passed away as a result of the coronavirus. Reynolds stated that 56 percent of the deaths are residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities.

“Despite the many, many proactive steps taken early on to protect our most vulnerable Iowans, preventing COVID-19 from impacting long term care facilities is extremely challenging. We continue to work closely with our long term care facilities across the state to test the staff and the residents,” she said.

Reynolds added that the state is conducting diagnostic and serology testing among LTC facility residents and staff, and ensure each facility has sufficient personal protective equipment. 

“So we’re going to continue to be proactive and work with our facilities across the state and do everything we can, just as they are, to make sure that we’re protecting our most vulnerable during these very, very challenging times,” she added.

With increased testing, especially in areas that are known hot spots, Reynolds said they expected the number of positive cases to go up, and the additional data allows them to target areas where the virus activity is increasing or already high. She added that it is important not to focus only on the positive cases, but the hospital capacity as well. 

“The fact is, we can’t prevent people from getting the COVID-19 virus. If we weren’t testing in these areas, people would still have the virus, and without being tested, diagnosed, and isolated, it could spread even further. So going where the virus is active and determining its scope within a region, county or a community gives us a much better opportunity again to contain it and learn how we can manage it for the long term, so that life and business can continue to move forward safely and responsibly,” she stated.

There are 407 Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, with 40 new admissions in the last 24 hours, 152 in ICU, and 94 on ventilators. Currently, there are 3,947 inpatient beds, 569 ICU beds, and 677 ventilators available.

Reynolds noted there are three Test Iowa sites currently available in Des Moines, Waterloo, and Sioux City. She said a fourth site would open in Cedar Rapids on Thursday. She said more than 306,000 Iowans completed the assessment on the Test Iowa website

While LTC facilities outbreaks are difficult to contain, Iowa currently has 28, meat processing centers have also driven Iowa’s COVID-19 cases up. 

IDPH released the names of four meat processing plants and one manufacturer that saw over ten percent of their workforce test positive for COVID-19 or ten percent absenteeism which the department determines to be an outbreak

They are:

  • Tyson Foods in Columbus Junction – 221 cases that represent 26 percent of employees tested
  • Premium National Beef in Tama – 258 cases that represent 39 percent of the employees of tested
  • Tyson Foods in Waterloo – 444 cases that represent 17 percent of the employees tested
  • Tyson Foods in Perry – 730 cases that represent 58 percent of employees tested
  • TPI Composites in Newton – 131 cases that represent 13 percent of employees tested

The ten percent threshold is what IDPH uses for influenza, so the department is building off of their annual influenza surveillance. 

Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg News reported that Vice President Mike Pence identified Des Moines as a metro area of concern for the White House Coronavirus Task Force. 

Polk County, where Des Moines is located, currently has 1,778 reported cases of COVID-19. Six of the state’s 28 LTC facility outbreaks are within the county, making up almost 13 percent of the county’s cases. The county lags behind the state in terms of the recovery rate among those who tested positive at 13 percent. Polk County reports 43 COVID-19 deaths. 

Currently, only 5.6 percent of the county’s cases are hospitalized. The Regional Medical Coordination Center for the region that includes Polk County reports the region has 1,199 inpatient beds, 221 ICU beds, and 197 vents available with most of those resources located in the Des Moines Metro Area. 

Reynolds said that she planned to travel to Washington, D.C. later this week to visit with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and members of the White House coronavirus task force with several other governors to discuss what is taking place in Iowa.

Listen to the full press conference:

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