BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said Wednesday the state will be looking to enhance current systems for COVID vaccine scheduling rather than partner with Microsoft.
At her weekly press conference, Reynolds said the state looked hard a proposal from Microsoft for a centralized vaccine coordination system, but has decided to refocus on enhancing systems already in place.
She said the integrating current systems with the Microsoft system wasn’t advantageous to the state.
“We’ve been exploring every tool available to improve the vaccine distribution process,” Reynolds said.
“After learning more about the breadth of Microsoft’s solution and reviewing the challenges faced by other states in their roll-outs and speaking with our various vaccine partners, we have made the decision not to move forward with the contract.”
Reynolds said there would have been significant disruptions to the current systems already in place in the state and she didn’t want to risk slowing down the progress the state is making in getting people vaccinated.
According to coronavirus.iowa.gov, the data center for the state on all things COVID, the state has vaccinated close to 500,000 people and now is ranked 21st by the Centers for Disease Control in vaccination efficiency. The state was in the bottom three just two weeks ago.
The state has vaccinated 488,936 Iowans to date and 509,090 total doses have been administered.
Lee County is ranked 17th in the state for vaccines initiated, which means those receiving the first dose, with 2,415 and 1,370 county residents have received both doses.
Three additional cases were discovered in the past 24 hours for a total of 3,471 total cases in the county. Of those, 3,168 are listed as recovered. The current 14-day positivity rate in Lee County, according to Lee County Health Department is 5%. The state website has Lee County’s positivity rate for the past seven days at just 3% of all tests administered.
She said 87 of the state’s 99 counties have 14-day positivity ratings of under 10% and one hospital in Des Moines has closed it’s COVID dedicated wing.
Reynolds said the state will now shift its focus from building a different system to optimizing the overall registration and scheduling process for Iowans. She said those efforts would be done in partnership with local public health and vaccine providers.
Iowa’s weekly dose will be increasing next week by 24% to 62,000 doses, up from the 49,500 the state had been receiving.
The governors said five counties in the state did have vaccines withheld last week due to poor vaccination efficiencies, but she said it wasn’t a punishment for those vaccine providers.
“I want to be very clear that wasn’t meant to be punitive, but to allow local health officials to administer remaining vaccines before new supplies arrived,” Reynolds said.
She said all counties will be getting their allotments for the upcoming week.
“Our goal is to vaccinate as man eligible Iowans as possible based on the supply and we’re working together to make that happen.”
She said she was informed during a call with the White House Task Force that the FDA is close to a decision regarding emergency authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine by the end of the month.
“While that supply will be limited to just a few million doses at the start, Johnson & Johnson wants to distribute more than 100 million by the end of June,” Reynolds said.
She said the state will also be pushing for increased weekend vaccinations as federal officials are seeing “significant decreases” in vaccinations and hours over the weekends.
“I fully support this approach,” Reynolds said. “Increasing clinics will help us meet our goal of vaccinating as many as possible and that’s what we want.”
One reporter asked Reynolds what was the best advice for elderly who still haven’t been vaccinated and don’t have access to the Internet.
Reynolds said those people should get in contract with Area Agencies on Aging to help with the process.