Governor feels confident in limited reopening of 77 counties

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“I wouldn’t have moved forward if I didn’t think we were ready,” Gov. Kim Reynolds told a reporter this morning at her daily COVID-19 press conference.

Reynolds was asked about her opinion of a University of Iowa model that projects a possible increase in cases and fatalities if the State begins to reopen. The writers of the model frequently use the term “uncertain”.

“It’s not sustainable for us to continue to lock the state down,” Reynolds said. Her plan is to open 77 of Iowa’s 99 counties, including Marion County, on May 1 and “see how the state responds”.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, there are 467 new additional positive cases today for a total of 6,843 positive cases. Of the total number of cases reported, 2,428 (35 percent) have recovered. The 22 counties that will continue to have current restrictions until May 15, account for 93 percent of the new cases.

There were 12 additional deaths reported today for a total of 148 deaths. There are 323 patients currently hospitalized. There has been a total of 41,337 total tests conducted in Iowa (1 out of every 6 Iowans). Reynolds reported that 229,000 Iowans have taken the assessment on www.testiowa.com to see if they should take a test. The Tribune is working with the Governor’s Office to find a percentage of how many who have taken the assessment where told they do not need a test.

Specific numbers for Marion County’s COVID-19 infections show that there have been eight confirmed positive tests, six of whom have recovered.

Reynolds further explained that the toll social distancing has taken on Iowa livelihoods, mental health, unemployment claims – as well as increases in food insecurity and abuse, contributed to her decision to start to ease restrictions. The media was reminded that the eased restrictions do not mean people have to return to normal life.

“It’s not a mandate,” she said. “It’s an option.” Some restrictions will remain in place, as per the Governor’s order.

Testing remains “critical” to the State’s COVID-19 response, Reynolds added. Strike force teams will be sent to counties most in danger, as one is in Muscatine County today. The Iowa National Guard has played a significant role in the State’s response.

The Guard’s Adjutant General Benjamin Corell reported that there are 880 members of the Guard on duty right now, doing everything from transporting personal protective equipment, providing logistical and technical support, delivering tests to the University of Iowa lab, working at call centers and assisting Iowa food banks. Corell added that the safety of all patients’ anonymity and personal data is protected, and the Guard will not use any of the information.

“We are Iowans helping Iowans,” Corell said.

The Governor is set to host another press conference on Thursday, April 30, at 11 a.m. For another perspective on COVID-19, see the video below of a pair of doctors from California who have studied the disease and the immune system.