CORONAVIRUS

Iowa's hospitals to receive CARES funding to managed 'increased needs' due to COVID-19 spike

Gov. Reynolds also announced $3 million allocation to county public health departments

Medical assistant Alex Abodeely seals a container after depositing in it a swab used to collect a patient sample for a c
Medical assistant Alex Abodeely seals a container after depositing in it a swab used to collect a patient sample for a coronavirus test at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Family Medicine Clinic in Iowa City on Monday, April 20, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

Iowa’s hospitals and county public health departments will receive $28 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Tuesday.

The aid, meant to help these facilities manage increased needs due to COVID-19, will be allocated from the $1.25 billion in federal funding Iowa received as part of the CARES Act, according to a news release.

The announcement comes as the state continues to break records in new novel coronavirus cases and in the number of people being treated for the disease in Iowa hospitals.

Of the $28 million in new aid, $25 million will go to hospitals “to address staffing needs.” According to the governor’s announcement, funding will be prorated based on the average hospital census during September and October. The remaining $3 million will be distributed to county public health agencies on a per capita basis.

“As COVID-19 continues to impact Iowans, it is putting strain on both staffing at our hospitals as well as local public health departments,” Reynolds said in a statement. “These added funds will provide much-needed relief to hospitals to support their staffing needs in this critical time. They also will support Iowa’s county health departments, which are facing continued and ongoing increases in workload.”

The governor’s announcement did not clarify when that funding would be distributed.

Late last week, in a statement to The Gazette, a spokesman for Reynolds asserted that the percentage of COVID-19 patients in Iowa hospitals still is low, and that “new therapeutics such as Remdesivir and other treatments have helped reduce the severity of illness and shorten hospital stays for many patients.”

On Monday, the head of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics urged Iowans to forgo traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings with loved ones this year because of the spike across the state.

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If they don’t, hospitals across the state may be forced to take measures — including postponing routine care and elective surgeries — that may exacerbate patient illnesses and deprive the facilities of millions in income.

“This may be the year that, on top of everything else, 2020 took away our ability for families to get together in the manner that they did before for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” UIHC Chief Executive Officer Suresh Gunasekaran said in a news conference.

Reynolds, in her statement, urged Iowans to “take every precaution possible to slow the community spread of COVID-19,” including wearing a mask in public, social distancing and staying home when sick.

Comments: (319) 398-8469; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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