Governor delays word on reopening more businesses

State lab looking at criteria for administering 400 vials of Remdesivir

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

JOHNSTON – As much of the state anticipated more relaxed restrictions to businesses and services, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Tuesday delayed any action on that until possibly Wednesday.

At Monday’s press conference Reynolds, who’s in modified isolation due to possible exposure to the COVID virus when she visited Washington D.C. last week, said additional easing of restrictions would be announced today.

Reynolds didn’t provide specifics on what prompted the delay other than to say she wanted an additional day to look at data.

“I’m still reviewing information with the Department of Public Health and will be announcing new changes tomorrow,” Reynolds said.

When pressed further on the issue by reporters, Reynolds said the current restrictions don’t expire until the 15th.

“We had some time and I want to continue to look at data,” she said. “We’re seeing good numbers, and downward trends, and hospitalizations stabilize. We’re basing it on our ability to manage our resources and not overwhelm our health facilities. So I made the decision to just wait one more day.

“Lifting restrictions is not a mandate, but an opportunity for those that feel they are ready. Each business will determine what’s right for them.”

Reynolds said the state has also been given 400 vials of Remdesivir, an FDA fast-tracked treatment that is showing some promise at shortening the recovery time of those with severe cases of COVID-19.

Criteria for the release of the 400 vials is being set up at the State Hygenic Lab. Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter said patients would require either 6 or 11 vials depending on individual needs.

She said the drug will be distributed throughout the state based on the number of hospitalized patients in an area, the number of patients in ICUs in an area, 30 day trends of the virus activity and new cases over the past two weeks. She said resources available to properly manage the use of the medicine are also a factor.

The U.S. Department of Public Health is distributing 14,400 vials across the nation.

Reynolds said the state’s coronavirus page at http://coronavirus.iowa.gov showed 539 new cases as of Monday night, but 319 were tied to a testing done April 28-30 at a processing plant in Nebraska where Iowans worked and that data was just made available to Iowa on Monday.

“The reporting of that back to the state of Iowa was delayed, but they are included in today’s counts,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds also said validation of Test Iowa results should happen today and the state will be able to ramp up testing even further once that is complete. She said after starting with just 300 tests per day the state is now at over 3,000 tests per day.

A Department of Education task force has been set up that is working on plans for the upcoming school year, including looking into using contract days from the current year in the next year to extend the school year.

“The Department of Education is working with school district and are looking at things they can utilize to transfer contract days to the next fiscal year in limited amounts,” Reynolds said. “So we’re reviewing ways to implement that.”

The governor waived the state’s official school start date of Aug. 23 to allow schools to have some flexibility in remediating the loss of school days this year.

As of Monday evening, Lee County is holding at 18 positive cases with 13 reported recovered. Des Moines County increased to 43 positive cases with 19 reportedly recovered and one death. Henry County also has 43 positive cases. 30 recovered with one death. Jefferson and Van Buren county have combined for 16 positive cases with all but one listed as recovered, and have reported no deaths.

In total, 289 Iowans have died from the disease as of Monday night.

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