Reynolds also eases restrictions in other 22 counties despite rising case and death counts
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
JOHNSTON – Call your stylist, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has opened salons, massage parlors and barber shops across the state starting Friday with capacity restrictions.
At Wednesday’s daily press conference from the Iowa Emergency Operations Center, Reynolds said much of the state is seeing a stabilization of hospitalizations and downward trend in monitored virus activity. guidelines.
“These positive signs give me confidence that were on the right path and we’re ready to take additional steps forward,” Reynolds said.
She then lifted restrictions on 22 Iowa counties that have been under tighter guidelines to allow them to reopen along the same guidelines given to the states’ other 77 counties a week ago.
Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sara Reisetter said symptomatic, vulnerable and older Iowans should still stay home as much as possible, as should any other Iowan who feels that’s the safest choice.
“Any Iowan over 65 or at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness should stay home as much as possible to protect your health. You should wear a face covering if you can’t stay at least six feet away. Anyone with close contact for more than 30 minutes with a positive case needs to self isolate for 14 days,” Reisetter said.
“And it’s OK to continue to stay home if you’re not in a high-risk category. Every Iowan needs to do what’s best for them. The Department of Public Health has developed guidance that all business should follow as they prepare to open.”
That guidance is available on the state’s coronavirus website at coronavirus.iowa.gov. Recommendations include increase frequency of cleaning and sanitizing customer and staff areas, as well has providing hand sanitizer and face coverings when needed.
Reynolds said the state is seeing an uptick in numbers in the central and western parts of the state, including Polk County and Woodbury County which have been labeled hot spots in national media reports this week.
But the governor said decisions are always based on data and with the state phasing in it’s plans to reopen, health care resources and targeted testing are sufficient to continue to move forward in getting the state restarted.
“We’re also monitoring the potential impact of hospital resources in those areas and resources remain stable and Iowans are getting the care they need. These signs give me confidence we’re moving in the right direction,” she said.
“COVID-19 is here to stay for a while. But with everyone working together, despite everything, we can and must reopen our economy. We can restart and in a stable, safe and responsible way.”
No decisions have been made on high school sports with some states in the nation moving to open up summer sports.
Reynolds said, as she has throughout the pandemic, those decisions will be based on data that is being pulled from the state and she will continue to look at those figures in making decisions.
Bars and casinos in the state are still closed under the new order.
Reynolds said despite 35 deaths in the last two weeks, she still has confidence in opening the state’s commerce further.
“It’s awful anytime we have to announce additional Iowans losing their lives due to COVID-19. The vast majority of those deaths have been associated with our vulnerable population and in our long-term care facilities.
Reisetter said the deaths are a lagging indicator and those severe conditions usually present seven to eight days into the illness.
She said some areas of the state have peaked in virus numbers, but some others have not and that will come with increased and targeted testing in those areas, and where other surges might occur.
Reisetter also said state businesses are no longer required to report via a survey when 10% of their workforce is absent or ill due to the virus. She said it’s better for them to contact that state directly.
“We’ll continue to provide as much support and guidance to the businesses as we can,” she said. “But instead of filling out a survey we’ve asked them to reach out directly to us with any concerns about their workplace.”
Test Iowa is still several validations away from being able to ramp up testing. Reynolds said the State Hygienic Lab is validating 100 tests, when previously they only had to validate five tests with the Centers for Disease Control in the early onset of testing in the state.
“The State Hygience Lab is being very thorough to assure Iowans (Test Iowa results) are valid,” she said. “We’ve got two or three left so hopefully by tomorrow we’ll have that validated.”
As of Tuesday evening, Lee County holds at 18 positive cases with 13 recovered. Des Moines County had an additional positive case Tuesday taking that county to 44 total with 20 recovered. Henry County has 43 positive confirmed cased with 32 listed as recovered. Both of those counties have seen once death. Jefferson County has nine confirmed cases with eight listed as recovered and Van Buren County has had eight cases and all are listed as recovered by the IDPH.
According to Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, Clark County has only had one reported positive case of the virus. Hancock County in Illinois has had 12 confirmed cases of the virus.