CORONAVIRUS

Iowa's coronavirus curve flattening, officials say

State reports daily high of 125 cases, 2 deaths in Linn

CHART: Daily case counts of coronavirus in Iowa from March 8 to April 9, 2020.
CHART: Daily case counts of coronavirus in Iowa from March 8 to April 9, 2020.
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Although the number of new cases of COVID-19 reported in Iowa hit a one-day high of 125, state health officials said Thursday they are beginning to see an overall flattening of the curve.

With the deaths of two Linn County residents, 29 Iowans now have died from COVID-19, Gov. Kim Reynolds said in her daily news briefing. The number of positive cases has climbed to 1,270 since the pandemic was first noted March 8 in Iowa.

A good sign, the governor said, was that 882 Iowans tested negative for the disease, pushing that number to 13,703 overall.

The latest Iowa Public Health Department numbers show that 115 Iowans are hospitalized for illnesses or symptoms related to COVID-19, while 476 have recovered.

Despite the numbers, Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the Health Department, said mitigation efforts the governor has ordered and that health officials have advised appear to be paying off.

Public health officials have been predicting that the positive case numbers would rise “and that’s remained true.”

“I can tell you that when we look at our epidemiological curve, it is starting to flatten, which is where we want to be,” Reisetter said. The “curve” refers to the projected number of people who will contract COVID-19 over time.

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However, the governor and health officials again declined to tell the public details of the metrics they say they are relying on to inform their public policies.

“I think sometimes everyone is getting so hung up on the metrics,” Reynolds said before repeating strategies such as staying at home as much as possible, leaving home only for essential trips to the grocery store or pharmacy, for example.

Reisetter cautioned now is not the time to relax the mitigation strategies because the curve flattening is evidence “Iowans are listening and that means that it is time to continue to do those things so we don’t start moving in the wrong direction.”

If the curve continues to flatten, Reynolds and Reisetter said, the state may be able to look at antibody testing, which is seen as a step toward “reopening” the state.

“That is actually something that we are really excited about,” Reisetter said, adding that like COVID-19 testing, “it goes to testing supplies.”

Antibody testing would be used to analyze people who might not otherwise have been tested, she explained. People who might have been mildly ill and not been tested for COVID-19, and people who practiced social distancing and stayed home and recovered could be tested.

“We’re really looking forward to learning more about that and to having the supplies become available so that we can start to employ that,” Reisetter said.

As to reopening the state, Reynolds did not provide a time table.

She said she will notify education administrators next week whether she intends to extend her school closure order beyond April 30.

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Later Thursday, she told a radio host that long-term metrics for reopening the state would be established.

“We’re going to put some metrics in place — we’re going to have a three-, nine-, 18-month, two — year, I mean if you’re realistic, to get back to where we were.” Reynolds said.

She noted that Eastern Iowa and the Polk County region are “hot zones” and that Western Iowa “is in a better spot.”

She said she did not have a specific date, but was encouraged by what she’s seeing.

“So some of the first things we shut down, if we can start to bring some restaurants back on, but we have maybe a little bit of a capacity and we’re not sitting on top of each other. I mean just some of those things — we can get it open and get it start to moving and we build from that,” she said in the interview.

A total of 79 of Iowa’s 99 counties now have reported positive COVID-19 cases, with Linn County having the most with 215, followed by Johnson County with 171, Polk County with 140, Scott County with 88, Muscatine County with 70, Washington County with 65 and Tama County with 63.

A total of 662 women and 607 men have tested positive, with the age group breakdowns in Iowa as follows: 41-60 with 483 cases, 18-40 with 387 cases, 61-80 with 306 cases, over age 81 79 cases and Iowans from birth to 17 having 16 testing positively.

The deaths reported Thursday were both from Linn County — one between 61 and 80 and the other 80 or over.

The Health Department said the locations and age ranges of the 125 new cases are:

• Benton County, one adult (18-40 years), two middle-age adults (41-60 years);

• Black Hawk County, one adult (18-40 years), one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

• Boone County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

• Buchanan County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

• Cedar County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

• Cerro Gordo County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years)

• Chickasaw County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years);’

• Clinton County, one child (up to 17 years), one older adult (61-80 years);

• Dallas County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

• Dubuque County, one adult (18-40 years), two middle-age adults (41-60 years);

• Iowa County, one adult (18-40 years);

• Jasper County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

• Johnson County, eight adults (18-40 years), 12 middle-age adults (41-60 years), four older adults (61-80 years);

• Jones County, two middle-age adults (41-60 years);

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• Linn County, one child (up to 17 years), seven adults (18-40 years), six middle-age adults (41-60 years), three older adults (61-80), one elderly adult (81+);

• Louisa County, four adults (18-40 years), six middle-age adults (41-60 years), one elderly adult (81+);

• Marshall County, one adult (18-40 years), one middle-age adult (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years);

• Muscatine County, one adult (18-40 years), six middle-age adults (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years), one elderly adult (81+);

• Polk County, two adults (18-40 years), three middle-age adults (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years);

• Scott County, one child (up to 17 years), six adults (18-40 years), two middle-age adults (41-60 years), two older adults (61-80 years);

• Story County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

• Tama County, three adults (18-40 years), nine middle-age adults (41-60 years), three older adults (61-80 years), two elderly adults (81+);

• Washington County, two middle-age adults (41-60 years), one elderly adult (81+);

• Winneshiek County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

• And Woodbury County, one adult (18-40 years).

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

Rod Boshart of The Gazette Des Moines Bureau contributed.

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