CORONAVIRUS

Reynolds says grim coronavirus projection for Iowa flawed

She again declines to disclose what state's modeling shows

Line chart of coronavirus cases in Iowa as of April 1, 2020
Line chart of coronavirus cases in Iowa as of April 1, 2020

JOHNSTON — A University of Washington medical institute’s projection this week that 777 Iowans will die by Aug. 4 as a result of the novel coronavirus is based on incomplete information, Gov. Kim Reynolds and a state public health official said Wednesday, declining again to disclose what their own projections show.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research center at the University of Washington’s medical school that has been cited by the White House as making projections close to its own, on Wednesday worsened its grim projection for Iowa. Based on more data, it now forecasts that 1,367 Iowans will die from the virus.

Reynolds did not say Wednesday during her daily news conference whether she expects the impact in Iowa to be less than that projection. But she said the projection does not account for measures she and her administration have put in place, including recommending that schools close for at least a month and ordering many business to close.

Iowa districts have voluntarily closed the schools, but a researcher noted in an interview with The Gazette that the governor had not ordered it. She also has not issued any shelter-at-home orders.

The projections, which can change often, are at covid19.healthdata.org.

Reynolds said measures taken in the state would impact the data.

“What I can say that we’re doing is we’re doing everything we can to hopefully keep the numbers as low as we can to protect the health and well-being of Iowans, especially those that are vulnerable to COVID-19,” Reynolds said during the briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Dodge. “That will have some bearing on the numbers. But, again, these are projections. It’s based on assumptions. And every day we’re learning new things and we’re gathering more information.”

Two more novel coronavirus-related deaths in Iowa were confirmed Wednesday by the state, bringing the state’s total to nine virus-related deaths. Both were 81 years or older, one in Polk County and one in Washington County.

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State public health officials expect those numbers to continue to climb daily until mid- to late April, when they forecast the virus’s spread and impact in Iowa to peak.

“Like with any other model out there, there are assumptions that are made,” said Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the state public health department. “Our goal in all of this is to prevent illness and death in our state. So we’re making the recommendations to Gov. Reynolds that we feel like need to be made, and that includes some of the things that she has done (already), because we want to protect our most vulnerable Iowans. So we’ll continue to make the recommendations that we feel are necessary to do that.”

The state reported 52 newly confirmed cases Wednesday; Iowa has had 549 total cases

A total of 63 Iowans are hospitalized with coronavirus-related illnesses or symptoms.

Reynolds also said Wednesday she expects to issue an additional state public health emergency declaration Thursday. She said that in response to a question about the extension of federal guidelines on social distancing to April 30 and the impact that could have on Iowa’s school closures.

Linn County continued to lead all 99 Iowa counties with 94 positive cases, followed by Polk County with 81 and Johnson County with 76.

A total of 59 of Iowa’s 99 counties currently have at least one case.

A total of 287 women and 262 men have tested positive, with the 41-60 age range the highest with 195 cases.

According to the state public health department, the locations and age ranges of the 52 newly confirmed cases are:

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

• Clayton County, one elderly adult (81+);

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

• Dallas County, one adult (18-40 years), one older adult (61-80 years);

• Des Moines County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years); l

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

• Harrison County, one older adult (61-80 years);

• Henry County, one adult (18-40 years), one older adult (61-80 years);

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

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

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

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

• Madison County, one older adult (61-80 years);

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

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

• O’Brien County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years);

• Polk County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years), three older adults (61-80 years), one elderly adult (81+);

• Pottawattamie County, one child (up to 17 years);

• Poweshiek County, one older adult (61-80 years);

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

• Story County, two older adults (61-80 years);

• Tama County, one middle age adult (41-60 years), two older adults (61-80 years);

• Van Buren County, one older adult (61-80 years);

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

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• And Washington County, one adult (18-40 years), five middle-age adults (41-60 years), two older adults (61-80 years), one elderly adult (81+).

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