Reynolds says it’s time to start reopening state

Puts out plea for volunteer nurses as more than 500 test positive in last reporting cycle

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

JOHNSTON – On the heels of the biggest 24-hour jump in positive coronavirus cases in the state, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said “it’s time” to start reopening Iowa.

As part of her daily press conferences from the state’s Emergency Operations Center, Reynolds said hospitals and farmer’s markets were part of a new declaration effective Monday, aimed at getting back to business and service in the state.

Reynolds took restrictions off state hospital for elective surgeries and procedures for hospitals that can stand on their own resources for personal protective equipment. She said the hospitals also must continue to treat COVID-19 patients, and 30% of the medical beds and ICU beds must be reserved for COVID-19 patients.

Reynolds said the supply chain for PPE has improved and the number of trips by the National Guard to move supplies around the state has diminished.

With increased testing going on in the state’s manufacturing and long-term care centers, 521 more Iowans tested positive in the last 24 hour reporting cycle bringing the state’s total to 4,445. She said 31,973 Iowans have been tested representing 1 of every 98 Iowans.

The state also went over 100 deaths with 11 reported in the last reporting cycle.

The governor also reported a recovery rate of 36% among patients who received and tested positive for the coronavirus. That number doesn’t reflect those who may have had the disease but weren’t severe to warrant testing in the early stages.

She said Iowa data suggests the state hasn’t seen the impact of the virus other areas of the country have and Iowa can start to move forward.

“Fortunately, Iowa has not experienced the health care surge other states have had,” she said. “The coordination and collaboration between providers, systems and the state gives us the confidence we can care for COVID patients, while also providing procedures to improve the health and quality of life for others.”

Reynolds said it isn’t her point that starting Monday everyone should go outside and restart their lives. She said all Iowans, especially those vulnerable, should continue to practice all the measures of the past month including social distancing.

“Every day we have more tools to utilize and we learn more about how it’s spread,” she said. “With the data we’re looking at, we’re going to start opening things up and it’s time.”

She said additional steps will be announced at Monday’s press conference as to what areas of service, business and industry will be allowed to phase in reopening processes.

Today’s declaration will also allow farmer’s markets around the state to open up. The Fort Madison Farmer’s Market in Central Park, wasn’t scheduled to open until June. 1

State health officials continue to push the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in Iowa back two to three weeks.

“We fully anticipate a peak in the next two to three weeks as we do the surveillance testing and Test Iowa stations open up and we’re testing more Iowans than ever before,” said Sarah Reisetter, deputy director at Iowa Department of Public Health. “We saw a large volume of cases today and we’ll continue to see that as people get access to Test Iowa. Peak will occur when case counts come back down.”

In spite of the phased efforts to get the state moving again, Reynolds put out a plea for volunteer nursing. She said state nurse willing to volunteer is encouraged to register with the Iowa Statewide Emergency Register for Volunteers at IASERV.org.

She said nurses are in high demand, especially in long-term care facilities and to help with the increase in surveillance testing going on in outbreak areas.

The state confirmed another outbreak at long-term care center in Polk County

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