CORONAVIRUS

Some Iowa coronavirus numbers encouraging

With peak not here yet, Gov. Kim Reynolds urges caution

Gov. Kim Reynolds talks with reporters Monday at a news conference at the state's emergency operations center at Camp Do
Gov. Kim Reynolds talks with reporters Monday at a news conference at the state’s emergency operations center at Camp Dodge. (Olivia Sun/Des Moines Register).

JOHNSTON — The rate of novel coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Southeast Iowa has fallen, giving the state a little more breathing room — at least for now — from considering more stringent measures in what had been the hottest of the hot zones.

And Gov. Kim Reynolds said Monday the number of Iowans recovering from COVID-19 continues to increase.

But she also cautioned Iowa is not by any means clear of the disease’s impact, and that infections and deaths here will continue to rise in the coming days and weeks.

With state data showing the rate of virus-related hospitalizations falling in the southeast Iowa region, which includes Johnson County, the formula designed by state public health officials to guide their response to the virus produced a lower number — meaning the region is now farther from needing a strict shelter-at home order.

In the state’s formula for virus response efforts, the region improved from being rated a “9” to an “8,” Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter said Monday during the governor’s daily briefing on the state’s response.

But, Reynolds said, that does not mean she is at this point ready to recommend relaxing the many business and school closures and social distancing recommendations issued by her office.

“These signs are encouraging, but they are not reason enough for us to let up on our mitigation efforts at this time,” Reynolds said during the briefing from the State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Dodge in Johnston. “As we’ve been saying, we project that Iowa’s peak will occur later this month, and until then we anticipate our number of positive cases and unfortunately our deaths will continue to rise as well.”

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Two additional coronavirus-related deaths were confirmed Monday by the state, bringing the total number of Iowa deaths to 43 since the virus first appeared here in early March.

The deaths reported Monday include one person aged 81 or older from Linn County, and one person between 60 and 80 from Muscatine County.

The state now reports 19 deaths in Linn County, more than 44 percent of the state’s total. According to local health officials, all were residents of long-term care facilities that have suffered COVID-19 outbreaks.

The state also confirmed 123 new positive cases, bringing that total so far to 1,710. The virus has been found in 82 of Iowa’s 99 counties.

Figures show an additional 981 people during the period tested negative, for a total of 16,986 negative tests to date.

State officials said 142 individuals remain hospitalized, and 741 have recovered from the virus.

Reynolds has established a state task force that will discuss how to reopen Iowa businesses when her administration deems that is appropriate. The task force will begin meeting this week, Reynolds said, and initially will be made up of state department heads. Private-sector leaders will be added later, the governor said.

But Reynolds said it’s too early to predict when her administration will deem the state ready for reopened schools and businesses.

“It’s too early right now. … We’re still not at the peak, and that’s not anticipated until the end of the month,” Reynolds said. “We will get through this. We will recover. I want to open up this state as soon as we can, but I want to do it in a responsible manner. We don’t want to open it up just to have to shut things back down again. So we have to be very consistent, and again be relying on some data before we’re able to do that.”

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Reynolds reiterated she plans to decide by the end of the week whether Iowa schools should remain closed beyond April 30.

According to Health Department, the locations and age ranges of the 123 individuals newly reported are:

• Allamakee County, two adults (18-40 years);

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

• Black Hawk County, nine adults (18-40 years), three middle-age adults (41-60 years), three older adults (61-80 years);

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Polk County, five adults (18-40 years), five middle-age adults (41-60 years), four older adults (61-80 years), one elderly adult (81+)’

• Scott County, one adult (18-40 years), two older adults (61-80 years);

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.