DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa officials reported Monday that nine Iowa Department of Human Services employees working at five state-run facilities have tested positive for the coronavirus and six residents at a facility housing residents with intellectual disabilities have it too.
Iowa DHS Director Kelly Garcia said the agency has asked a team of doctors from the University of Iowa for assistance in dealing with the outbreak at the Woodward Resource Center. Woodward is about 32 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of Des Moines.
The state reported 534 additional coronavirus cases Monday taking the state’s tally to 9,703. There were four additional deaths for a total of 188.
Iowa has reported 28 outbreaks in nursing homes across 12 counties. The number of cases also is soaring at communities with meatpacking plants.
Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter said the state is considering whether to release the names of businesses with outbreaks and numbers of infected workers.
Not all meatpacking plants have said how many if any of their workers are infected and the state is considering whether the releasing such details would serve the public health interest as is required by state law.
Gov. Kim Reynolds again defended her decision to ease restrictions on businesses in 77 of Iowa’s 99 counties and allow church services again across the state. She said those decisions can’t be viewed from an isolated perspective and that she’s had to also consider the health, mental health and livelihood of Iowans as she sees increases in substance abuse, food insecurity and unemployment.
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“Iowans are meant to work, and we need to open back up, but we have to do it in a safe and responsible manner,” she said. “This isn’t political, and it shouldn’t be for anybody and I don’t believe it is. It’s about trying to do the right thing in an unprecedented time to really manage the health and well-being of Iowans.”
One of the counties to reopen, Wapello County in southern Iowa, has seen a spike in cases in recent days, going from 10 last week to about 100 as of Monday, said County Supervisor Chairman Jerry Parker. The county also reported its first death.
He said he’s not rushing to reopen the county courthouse for general business or other county buildings, and the supervisors last week voted to cancel the county fair that was scheduled to start June 17.
“I’m not going to jump whether the president or the governor says it’s open,” he said, adding that the public hasn’t complained because residents realize its something officials are doing to save lives.
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