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Governor’s Press Conference
Yesterday at her press conference, Governor Kim Reynolds said the solutions for Iowa must address our highest priority needs while balancing our lives and livelihoods of Iowans.
Over the last two weeks hospitalizations have climbed daily and at times the increases have been significant. On November 1, 718 Iowans with COVID were in the hospital. As of this Monday the number has more than doubled to 1,510. Patients in the hospital have increased rapidly as well. 14 percent of Iowans in the hospital at the beginning of the month had the virus and today it is 28 percent. About 5 percent of Iowans with COVID-19 require hospitalization, so as cases continue to increase, we can project that hospitalizations will keep pace.
In late October new hospitalizations were just approaching the 100 mark and today it tops 200, and that is not sustainable, she said. Every Iowan who needs medical care is at risk.
The measures she announced Monday night that are now in effect are meant to have a big impact in a short amount of time, she said. To view a summary of enhanced mitigation measures, click here.
The health disaster proclamation will be revisited in a week and evaluate whether additional measures are needed, she said.
She provided a prison update, because COVID outbreaks at prisons have created high positivity rates in some counties. On Oct. 28 the first cases appeared in the inmate population at Anamosa. Mass testing began which yielded 500 positive cases. A second round of testing yielded another 250 positive cases. 64 percent of the total positive cases have moved to recovered status.
At Clarinda in late October cases were discovered and mass testing was conducted. To date 547 total positive cases have been identified through mass testing and 79 percent are now recovered.
At North Central Correction Facility, November 2 they discovered positive cases, and mass testing began in days following, generating a total of 370 positive cases and 67 have now moved to recovered status.
Despite the rising cases and hospitalizations, there is hope that a vaccine is on the horizon and new therapeutics are being developed to provide quicker recovery for more people, the Governor said. Two promising vaccines have proven to be more than 90 percent effective from drug makers Pfizer and Moderna, who plan to apply for FDA approval in the next few weeks to begin vaccinating the public. There is a new monoclonal antibody treatment of which Iowa will receive 2,000 doses. The therapeutic is targeted to older adults 65 and older or those with specific health conditions and those older than twelve and immune compromised. It is not authorized for those already hospitalized or requiring oxygen therapy. It is being distributed by IDPH based on hospitalization rates.
Governor Reynolds touted a therapy currently in short supply, but that is easy to replenish with the help of Iowans who have had the virus. Convalescent plasma therapy is a leading treatment for COVID19 that takes antibody rich plasma from the blood of recovered COVID 19 patients and gives it to those hospitalized due to the virus to boost their ability to fight it, she explained. The experimental treatment has proven to have positive results for many COVID 19 patients.
Christine Hayes of Lifeserve Blood Center in Des Moines which is the sole provider of blood to 120 hospitals, said that more than 900 units of convalescent plasma has been transfused into patients in the past two weeks, because of patient numbers skyrocketing, which is more than the first four months of the pandemic. The need for convalescent plasma is outpacing demand. Every regular blood donor is being tested for COVID-19 antibodies. Someone who has recovered from COVID-19 can provide very valuable blood donations.
The current supply of convalescent plasma will be depleted by December 1. Only a volunteer blood donor can provide transfusable convalescent plasma that can be used in a hospital setting. Paid donations cannot be used in hospitals. Small regional hospitals also have the plasma available through a government program. People can find out how to donate at lifeservebloodcenter.org. Read more here.
The Governor fielded a question about why she did not include a mask mandate for schools in her recent proclamation. She said they are not seeing a transmission between kids in classrooms, and most schools are wearing them. School guidance with mask wearing helps minimize interruptions for quarantine when a positive case occurs.
The Governor was asked whether she believes masks are effective and she said yes. “There is science on both sides,” she said. “If you look you can find whatever you want to support wherever you’re at.” She said she believes masks are effective as part of layered mitigation methods that they are implementing, and said that if you’re not able to social distance and are around others for more than 15 minutes you need to wear a mask.
Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 194,465 Iowans have tested positive, up 3,885 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,123,445 tested. 41 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 2,064 deaths. Now 111,286 Iowans have recovered. The overall positivity rate is 17.3% and the total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 22.5%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 1,527 hospitalized patients.
School district statistics including positivity rates by county can be found here. According to guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Education, schools may petition to go to hybrid or online learning with less than 50 percent in-person instruction when the per county percentage positivity rates are above 15 percent in a county on average over the past 14 days (rolling average) AND 10% absenteeism among students is expected for in-person learning. School district waiver requests and whether they are granted or denied are listed here.
Currently 93 (of 99) counties are above a 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days. Because there are a high number of counties to report, this newsletter will no longer list them individually. Click here to search county data for today.
Total Cases 11,136,253
Total Deaths 246,232
Total Cases 55,736,846
Total Deaths 1,340,645