BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – Iowa got some good news from the Biden Administration this week.
Next week’s allotment of COVID-19 vaccines to Iowa could be bumped by 16%, on top of an already projected increase on Feb. 8.
The state may also get some unused vials from the state’s pharmacy partners who are working under federal partnership to distribute currently to long-term care facilities.
Reynolds said, during her second press conference in a week, that state data around the pandemic continues to improve daily.
It was also the second time Reynolds has ended her conference after a pressing question from reporters.
Reynolds was asked about doses of vaccines that are alleged to have gone to large campaign contributors, a moved that State Auditor Rob Sands is investigating.
Reynolds said those doses were handed out based on recommendations from many state leaders including those from the Iowa Finance Authority, the Dept. of Agriculture and Department of Humans Services. She called the claims “unjustified”.
“Thank goodness when we were setting up these programs we were basing it on metrics and criteria, Reynolds said. “
“We took recommendations from state officials, Debi Durham, Dept. of Ag. Kelly Garcia…. We rolled out the program and if you qualify you qualify. It’s that simple.
Reynolds said facilities involved in the food supply chain, specifically pork producers, were part of the rollout due to the critical nature of the food supply chain. She said the allocations had nothing to do with campaign contributors.
“It’s unjustified. It has nothing to do with the other. To my knowledge no one was told “no”. And I will make no apologies for doing that. None.”
At that point, the press conference was ended with no further questions.
Last week, Reynolds ended her conference after a question regarding putting government officials in front of Iowa’s elderly in the line for vaccines under Phase 1b.
Reynolds said hospitalizations are down from November when the state saw more than 1,500 people in state hospitals, to less than 400 a few days ago. Today that number was 408.
She said part of that is due to Iowans taking monoclonal antibody treatment and staying at home, in addition to the state’s positive progress in COVID-19 response and recovery.
“I know we can attribute progress to one thing and that’s Iowans. Iowans realized the seriousness of the situation and the importance being part of the solution to overcome it and sustain it.
The increased dosages account for about 6,300 and Reynolds said that is guaranteed for three weeks. She said a new Johnson & Johnson vaccine is on the horizon that only requires one dose and that help simplify the process.
“I still want to remind Iowans that the vaccine supply will remain limited for quite some time. We’ve made good progress in our efforts to vaccinate,” Reynolds said.
She said 200,000 Iowans have been vaccinated in the last 46 days and just nine months since the first case was reported in the state.