All Iowans may be eligible for vaccines starting April 5

Lee County Health Department staff and volunteers check on vaccinated residents during a drive-thru clinic Wednesday at First Baptist Church in Fort Madison. Photo by Chuck Vandenberg/PCC

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

DES MOINES – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said during her weekly COVID-19 press conference, she believes Iowa is “turning the corner” in its battle with the coronavirus, and to that end is opening vaccines to all Iowans starting April 5.

Reynolds said Iowa is getting about 1% of the national weekly supply of vaccines and based on Governor’s calls with the White House this week, the uptick in vaccine availability should allow all Iowans to start scheduling vaccinations in less than three weeks.

While saying getting vaccinated is a personal choice, Reynolds said she would encourage every Iowan to get a vaccine.

“Pledge you’ll get vaccinated as soon as you can,” Reynolds said. “We’re all in this together and let’s finish strong.”

The state’s 14-day positivity rating is under 4% for all tests including PCR and Antigen testing. The hospitalization rate is down 90% from it’s peak in November.

To date 1,346,741 individuals have had the PCR (nasal swab) test, with 285,546 individuals being positive for an overall rate since testing began of 21.2%. However 2,819,981 total tests have been administered with 309,843 of those tests being positive for a rate of 11%.

At coronavirus.iowa.gov, Lee County has a 7-day positivity rate listed at .3%. It’s 14-day positivity rate is listed at .7%. Since March 1, the county has reported 0 new cases on five different days in it’s 24-hour report, including Wednesday’s. On Tuesday, Lee County Health Department said it will reduce issuing reports to just twice a week, rather than daily Monday through Friday summary.

Fifty-four Lee County residents have suffered COVID-related deaths. That number statewide is 5,666.

Reynolds said she’s hearing more and more throughout the state that Iowans think the state is winning the fight with the coronavirus.

“In the last couple of weeks more and more people have commented we’ve turned a corner and I believe we have. Iowa’s recovery is in a strong position,’ Reynolds said.

“We’ve proven we can manage the virus while responsibly moving ahead with our daily lives. As vaccine supply increases, getting life back to normal finally seems possible.”

Although she couldn’t outline exactly how the state will handle the influx of people who want to get vaccinated, Reynolds said state officials are ready to ramp up vaccinations and are looking for partnerships with volunteer groups to help keep up with demand.

The state received 118,000 vaccines the first week of March, 94,900 the second week, and 86,500 this week.

“Next week we’ll see that uptick. But right now if we’re able to ramp up in a manner they are projecting it will be good news for Iowans. There has been a significant increase in national supply of all three of the vaccines in the last two weeks.”

The state’s 211 system could be used to help Iowans schedule appointments. To date, that system has been used specifically to help seniors 65 and older without access to the Internet, schedule appointment.

“We’re looking at that and what it will look like in the next phase. It makes sense to use that great resource where we can be helpful,” she said.

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