Gov. Kim Reynolds announced at her Friday press conference that the State will allow elective medical procedures to resume, as well as farmers’ markets, on Monday, April 27. More details on restrictions going forward are expected Monday.
“This is our first step,” Reynolds said. Though she is reopening aspects of Iowa society, they will come with the same precautions that have been in place since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Farmers’ market attendees will still be asked to stay six feet apart from each other, wash their hands, avoid the public if showing symptoms, etc.
Reynolds based her decision to begin easing restrictions on Iowa’s economy on several factors, including what her team of scientists and medical professionals have learned about combating the virus, the increase in testing, the “clusters” and “hot spots” of where most of the cases have been.
“As we’re testing more, we’re testing in hot spots,” Reynolds said. She will begin to discuss reopening the state further on Monday.
The announcement of lifting some restrictions came on the heels of her announcement of 521 new cases being identified in Iowa. Of those tested since the last report, 2,190 have tested negative for COVID-19. Iowa’s current numbers stand at 4,445 positive cases and 27,528 negative cases.
Iowa ran 2,712 tests yesterday, bringing the total number of Iowans tested to 31,973 – or 1 in 98 residents. Of the positive tests, 30 percent of the patients work in manufacturing and 15 percent in health care. There are 104 people hospitalized in intensive care units across the state and 60 on ventilators. Another outbreak has occurred at the Mitchellville Care Center. Reynolds reported 11 more deaths attributed to COVID-19, bringing the total to 107 in the state.
Iowa has 3,986 hospital beds available, 534 ICU beds and 684 ventilators. The number of beds still available demonstrated to Reynolds that Iowans can still receive procedures that can improve their quality of life, while having enough resources to serve COVID-19 and other emergency patients.
Confidence stated about these things was accompanied by a request by Reynolds for Iowa’s nurses to consider volunteering for the Iowa Statewide Emergency Registration for Volunteers (ISERV) program. Volunteers with this group respond to disasters and public emergencies year-round. As testing becomes more focused on specific areas of the state, nursing assistance will be helpful.
“We need you,” Reynolds said. For instance, over the previous two days, the state tested 315 long-term care employees in Tama County. Future “strike team” efforts are being planned. If interested, register at www.IASERV.org
Reporters asked about the “peak” of cases in Iowa, which is believed to come in two to three weeks. Positive cases are expected to rise, as the state focuses testing in high-risk areas.
“Every day, through studies and clinicals…we are learning more and more,” Reynolds said. She is confident that, through what she has learned, Iowa can slowly begin to return to normal and more announcements on reopening are expected next week.