The Gazette Daily News Podcast, March 30

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Today’s going to be bright and sunny, with a high near 59, dipping down to 36 overning. The rest of the week will be equally beautiful and mostly sunny with highs in the 50s and 60s.

Thanks to the rapid expansion of testing availability, more people can get tested for coronavirus, but of course that also means we’re also going to see a spike in cases, as the number of identified cases has rapidly shot up over the past few days nationally, and the same is true in Iowa as well. Iowa has identified 336 positive cases of COVID-19 in 50 counties, and the death total increased to 4 over the weekend as Linn county saw its first death.

This rise in cases may seem alarming, and it should certainly be taken seriously, but just keep in mind that the number of identified cases is a representation of how widespread testing is, and with the FDA approving a rapid 15 minute test from Abbott labs, that number may climb even faster in in the near future.

Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health said current data indicates we may see the virus peak in the next two to three weeks, but also cautioned that data could change. As I just said, testing expansion will certainly cause the data to shift, but it may or may not influence those projections.

Many local Governments have been pressuring Governor Reynolds to issue a shelter at home order, but Reynolds has said such action isn’t necessary at this time and is working with communities on a daily basis to help them understand the metrics her team is using to make this decision. She still encourages as much social distancing as possible, but a mandatory stay at home order isn’t necessary, and Reynolds also cited examples from other states like Minnesota where 80% of the workforce was deemed essential anyway, meaning a shelter at home order may not actually have as drastic of an impact as existing social distancing practices.

One of the biggest concerns for healthcare workers nationwide is personal protective equipment to keep themselves safe from the virus while they treat an influx of infected patients. This means masks and other equipment can be hard to find, but over the weekend Andy Winborn, a Sharon Center independent truck driver came upon a supply of masks for sale in Colorado while conducting one of his regular routes. He put the sellers in touch with Johnson County Emergency Management Agency, who purchased their entire supply of the highly demanded KN95 masks, 2,000 in all, and an additional 10,000 procedural masks. The shipment was divided between the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Mercy Iowa City, who were obviously very happy to receive them.

To keep up with our daily coronavirus updates, visit TheGazette.com/coronavirus.