JOHNSTON — Gov. Kim Reynolds said Monday Iowa continues to see more positive test results and deaths associated with the novel coronavirus and she’ll decide later this week whether to extend her emergency order closing schools, businesses and other outlets until the new April 30 federal target.
“The reality is the end is not yet in sight,” Reynolds told a news conference, where she noted that at least six Iowans have died so far from the COVID-19 pandemic, including the latest addition of two elderly adults in Linn and Washington counties.
“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” she said.
While Monday marked the highest single-day jump in positive test results of 88, Reynolds and officials with the Iowa Department of Public Health said part of the increase is due to more testing, and reflect expectations that Iowa’s first peak is at least two to three weeks away.
“For now, we must adjust to a new normal, one that is uncomfortable, it’s inconvenient and it’s uncertain and this is not an easy time,” the governor said. She added that while resolves are “being tested like never before,” said noted that “Iowans are at their best when times are tough.”
On Sunday, President Donald Trump extended the federal social-distancing guidelines to April 30. The 15-day guidelines were set to expire Monday in hopes that the nation could begin to return to normal.
Similar to the White House’s guidance, Reynolds has issued an emergency order advising Iowans to avoid groups of more than 10 and urging people to stay home when possible.
Reynolds, who participated Monday in a conference call with Vice President Mike Pence and other U.S. governors, said the White House expects to issue more guidance for states to use in dealing with the pandemic later this week, and she would wait to decide whether anything should change in Iowa’s approach.
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“This isn’t going to be over in two weeks,” she cautioned. Public health officials said efforts to “flatten the curve” of the virus spread are multipronged. With up to 1,237 test kits now available at the State Hygienic lab, the prospects are likely that the number of cases will continue to rise and spread to all 99 counties.
The governor said Iowa still has a significant shortage of personal protective equipment, but she praised “inspiring” businesses for “stepping up” to produce and donate needed items like masks, face shields, gowns and gloves.
Iowa has pending orders for more than 2 million surgical/procedural masks, 500,000-plus N95 masks, 500,000-plus face shields and 250,000 gowns, Reynolds said. She noted there have been 153 deliveries by Iowa National Guard soldiers and others to all Iowa counties.
She also told Monday’s news conference the state will receive at least 15 new mobile testing machines from Abbott Laboratories that can process tests in five minutes. Hospitals and some nursing homes may possibly be places where the machines are deployed.
As the fourth week started since Iowa reported its first positive COVID-19 case, the governor said Health Department officials have confirmed a COVID-19 outbreak in long-term care facility in Cedar Rapids — a designation she indicated that occurs when three or more residents in facility have tested positive for the virus. She said 21 of Linn County’s 71 positive cases were directly related to the outbreak.
Health officials are working closely with the residents who are sick and are monitoring other residents, she said.
At least six Iowans have died so far as a result of the virus. The two Iowans with COVID-19 who died Sunday night were an adult over 80 of Linn County and another adult over 80 from Washington County.
The Health Department also said Monday there are 88 more positive cases of Iowans with COVID-19, for a total of 424. There have been a total of 6,162 negative tests to date, including 1,149 Monday, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs.
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To date, positive cases have been confirmed in 56 of Iowa’s 99 counties, with Linn County now rising to having the most cases at 71, followed by Johnson County with 70 and Polk County with 61.
Currently, 51 Iowans are hospitalized with coronavirus-related illnesses or symptoms, while another 23 have been discharged and recovered. Another 203 Iowans who tested positive have not required hospital treatment.
A total of 227 women and 197 men have tested positive, with the 41-60 age range now the highest with 150 cases, followed by Iowans in the 61 to 80 range with 132 cases, younger Iowans in the 18-40 range with 113 positive results, another 24 over the age of 80 and five below the age of 18, according to state data.
State officials list the locations and age ranges of the latest 88 individuals to test positive as:
• Audubon County, one older adult (61-80 years);
• Benton County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years), one elderly adult (81+);
• Cedar County, one older adult (61-80 years);
• Cerro Gordo County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);
• Clinton County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);
• Crawford County, one older adult (61-80 years);
• Dallas County, three adults (18-40 years), one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);
• Dubuque County, three middle-aged adults (41-60 years), two older adults (61-80 years);
• Guthrie County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);
• Iowa County, one older adult (61-80 years);
• Jackson County, one adult (18-40 years);
• Jasper County, one elderly adult (81+);
• Johnson County, two middle-aged adults (41-60 years), three older adults (61-80 years);
• Jones County, one adult (18-40 years);
• Linn County, nine adults (18-40 years), eight middle-aged adults (41-60 years), six older adults (61-80 years), six elderly adults (81+);
• Monona County, one child (up to 17 years), one adult (18-40 years), one older adult (61-80 years);
• Muscatine County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years), two older adults (61-80 years);
• Polk County, two children (up to 17 years), two adults (18-40 years), six middle-aged adults (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years);
• Scott County, one adult (18-40 years), two middle-aged adults (41-60 years), three older adults (61-80 years);
• Shelby County, one adult (18-40 years), one older adult (61-80 years);
• Tama County, one adult (18-40 years);
• Van Buren County, one older adult (61-80 years);
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• And Washington County, one adult (18-40 years), three middle-aged adults (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years).
On March 17, Reynolds declared a statewide public health disaster emergency that included limiting gatherings to 10 people and closing bars, restaurants, casinos and other businesses.
The order was expanded March 22 to include salons, medical spas, barbershops and many other businesses.
Last week, Reynolds extended the restrictions by one week, to April 7, and expanded the list of retail business closures.
Also, the governor’s emergency order called for suspending elective and non-essential medical and dental procedures and ordering health care facilities and nursing homes to engage in advanced screenings.
The order is slated to expire April 16 unless Reynolds changes it.
“Everybody is feeling the pain of what we’re doing,” Reynolds said.
Some local officials around Iowa have been asking her to issue a statewide “stay at home” order since they don’t have the authority so on their own, but the governor has resisted, saying data does not indicate that is appropriate.
She said she worried that such action would hurt Iowa’s supply chain and raise anxiety for residents already voluntarily following guidelines.
“If you keep asking people to do more and more and more and we’re not basing it on data, then at some point they really are not going to take you serious,” the governor said.
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