JOHNSTON — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said she shares President Donald Trump’s desire to re-open American businesses as soon as possible. Unlike the president, she said she would not put time lines on taking such actions.
Trump said Tuesday during a Fox News town hall that he wants the country’s economy re-opened by Easter, and that he may soon loosen federal guidelines for social distancing.
Health care experts warn that is too soon and could enable the virus to spread more rapidly.
During her daily news conference later Tuesday from the State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Dodge in Johnston, the Republican governor said she hopes businesses and schools in Iowa will soon be able to reopen. But when asked how long that may take, unlike the president, Reynolds declined to offer a time line.
“As I’ve said all along, I’m going to continue to make decisions based on the data, utilizing the expertise that I have in the Department of Public Health, working alongside the (federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), taking a look at what other states are doing, really walking through some of the metrics (the state is tracking), working with communities across the state, and we’ll take a look at what makes sense for us to either extend or start to bring some of those sectors back online.”
Reynolds and her public health department officials continued to ask Iowans to stay in their homes as much as possible, work from home when able, stay in their homes when feeling sick, contact their doctors if they feel they should be tested for the coronavirus and practice social distancing.
Reynolds said the state is recommending those strategies because health experts say they will help minimize the virus’s spread, which could help the state get to a place where businesses and schools can open again.
But Reynolds made no predictions as to how long that will take.
“I’m not prepared at this time to say a date because all along the decisions are so fluid,” Reynolds said. “I want to get business back to normal as quickly as I can, too. I think we all have that shared goal. I just want to make sure that I’m protecting Iowans and I’m making the decisions on the right data points.”
Nineteen new cases of the novel coronavirus were confirmed Tuesday in Iowa, officials said.
That brings the total confirmed cases in Iowa to 124 in 30 counties.
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As of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, the time of the governor’s news conference, 17 patients were hospitalized in Iowa because of the virus, up from seven a day earlier; 10 patients had been discharged, officials said.
More than 2,400 tests have been conducted at the state hygienic lab or at private labs since they started reporting, according to state data.
The state Health Department examines myriad data when determining what mitigation strategies to recommend to the governor, deputy director Sarah Reisetter said Tuesday.
That data informs, for example, whether the department recommends closing schools and businesses, which the governor has ordered, or whether to order Iowans to stay in their homes except for essential needs, which she has not.
Reisetter said the department considers the percent of an area’s population that is 65 or older, the percent of cases that requires hospitalizations, the rate of infection per 100,000 Iowans over the past 14 days, the number of outbreaks in settings like long-term care facilities, and information from other states and local health officials.
“Think of this as a dial and not a switch,” Reisetter said. “We will recommend turning the dial up and down over time. That’s how we will slow the spread of the virus in our state in order to prevent overwhelming our health care system and to protect our health care workers and our vulnerable populations.”
The 19 new cases announced Tuesday are:
• Black Hawk, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);
• Buchanan County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years;
• Cedar County, one older adult (61-80 years);
• Dallas County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);
• Jasper County, one older adult (61-80 years);
• Johnson County, one middle-aged adult, one older adult
• Muscatine County, two older adults (61-80;
• Polk County, three adults, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years), and one older adult (61-80 years);
• Poweshiek County, one older adult (61-80 years);
• Story County, one older adult (61-80 years);
• Tama County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);
• Warren County, one adult (18-40 years;
• And Washington County, one older adult (61-80 years).