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Governor’s Press Conference
The Governor said she’s pleased to report that Iowa’s recovery from COVID-19 continues to move in a positive direction on all fronts. 87 of the 99 counties have 14-day positivity rates below 10 percent. Our long-term care facility outbreaks are down to 29, and COVID 19 hospitalizations are down 85 percent from the high point in mid-November, she reported. Mercy 1 Des Moines is able to close its dedicated ICU COVID unit.
While virus activity continues to trend downward and remain stable our vaccine administration continues to improve, she said. Yesterday the CDCs vaccine tracker reported Iowa ranks 22 in the nation for percent of vaccines administered. Of the 615,100 doses distributed to our state we’ve administered 485,710 at a rate of about 70 percent, according to the CDC. Our state numbers, which update faster, show we’re close to having administered half a million at a rate of about 80 percent.
Last week a decision was made to hold the vaccine distribution to five counties that had not met the distribution of 80 percent. This was not meant to be punitive, but to allow the use of doses they had on hand before receiving new doses, the Governor said. With demand for vaccines far exceeding supply, there should not be doses sitting in storage, and our goal is to vaccinate as many Iowans as possible. They worked with the counties to develop plans to get it administered within the week, she said. This change will not disrupt vaccinations for residents in those counties. Since Monday we’ve been monitoring vaccine distribution across the state, and all 99 counties will receive their allocation as normal next week, and they will receive a small amount more.
An additional 2.5 million doses will be available on top of the 11 million allocated nationally and that is a new total of 13.5 million does distributed weekly.
Our allocation of 49,900 will be almost 62,000 next week. An increase of 24 percent. The allocation for the national pharmacy program will go from 1 million to 2 million, which will help HyVee and other pharmacies expand vaccine access to communities.
The Whitehouse said that FDA will announce its decision regarding Johnson & Johnson’s one dose EUA by the end of this month. They are coordinating to ensure distribution can begin immediately if it is approved. While supply will be limited at first, J & J’s goal is to distribute 100 million doses by the end of June. The Whitehouse committed to states to project allocations beyond three weeks which will allow better planning and vaccine administration clinics.
The Whitehouse is tracking a significant decrease of vaccinations over the weekends, and asked states to focus on increasing vaccination clinics on the weekends, and she agrees with this approach. Increasing vaccination clinics on the weekends will help us meet our goal of vaccinating as many Iowans as possible, the Governor said.
The state has been exploring every tool available to streamline the vaccine process. They issued an RFP and initially looked at contracting with Microsoft. After learning more about the breadth of Microsoft solutions, speaking with other states and challenges they had with rollouts in other states, they have made the decision not to move forward with the contract. She outlined that it would not be possible in a timely manner to integrate the various systems and platforms already in place with vaccine providers, pharmacies, and public health systems, without slowing down what is already happening. They are shifting focus to optimizing the overall registration process with Iowans instead of building a new system. We know there are barriers for Iowans who are still eligible and are trying to provide an easier alternative to online scheduling. They are continuing to look at a call center option.
While vaccination is top of mind for all of us, we can’t forget the importance of testing, she said. We updated the dashboard to include total testing data. Continuing to report tests for individuals as repeat tests become the norm. The time is right to implement a change in how we report test results. IDPH Director Kelly Garcia said they reported the number of new positive cases daily. Monitoring overall trends has become more important, such as a 14-day average which is the incubation period of the virus. As antigen testing became more readily available, testing exploded. We made the decision to report tests by individuals and total tests. Now we’re on the cusp of at home COVID-19 test kits and at a lower price. At least 3 products are supposed to come online this spring. While this is certainly good news, the expansion of testing, this will be more difficult to monitor all tests at an individual level. They are expecting to change from individual tests to total tests by the end of the week on the coronavirus dashboard.
The overall number of vaccines administered is 509,090 an increase of 12,109 since yesterday, with 254,292 receiving their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and 127,399 receiving their second dose. To find vaccine providers in your county, click here or scroll to the bottom of the vaccine dashboard.
Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard 331,036 Iowans have tested positive, up 606 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,531,595 tested. 43 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 5306 deaths. Now 306,374 Iowans have recovered. The total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 7.1% the past 7-day average is 5.3%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 252 hospitalized patients.
School district statistics including positivity rates by county can be found here. Currently 1 (of 99) county is at or above a 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days. Click here to search county data for today.
Total Cases 27,600,391
Total Deaths 486,466
Total Vaccination Doses Administered 56,281,827
Total Cases 109,604,779
Total Deaths 2,421,283