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Yesterday at her press conference, Governor Kim Reynolds said her thoughts and prayers go out to the President and First Lady, as they recover from COVID-19. "The President is also right, we can’t let COVID-19 dominate our lives,” she said.
The community spread occurring in northwest Iowa and other rural areas continues. She said there is a rise in hospital admissions. Iowa reached an all- time high of 444 Iowans hospitalized across the state on Tuesday. This morning there are 449. Hospitals in northwest Iowa are seeing the most admissions. This is disappointing news, she said, and sadly it’s what can happen we are experiencing community spread. It’s the vulnerable population that is most impacted, even though cases are more spread among age groups, she pointed out. 72 percent hospitalized in the last 14 days are over 60 and 68 percent have pre-existing conditions.
She spoke Tuesday with healthcare providers across the state, and they reassured her that they have the capacity and resources they need to manage the increased numbers. They now have access to new therapeutics and treatments for patients, and they are more experienced at treating the virus. We have not approached the peak of our hospital capacity even though hospitalizations are higher than ever, she said.
One of the most heart wrenching outcomes of COVID is the isolation and separation between the elderly and their families and neighbors, the Governor said. Long term care visitation guidance was necessary to prevent virus spread. IDPH revised its guidelines to be in line with federal guidelines for nursing home visitation. Guidance now provides clear opportunities for interaction and visitation to bring families back together safely, and allows for compassionate care visits.
The Governor gave an update on the new antigen test provided by the federal government. The first shipment of more than 60,000 tests has arrived at the State Hygienic Lab. They are finalizing their distribution plan, to get the kits out to where they will have the most impact. They will prioritize for hospitals and rural clinics where there is less access to testing. Healthcare providers will be able to administer the test and assist with other needed care to patients. When point of care antigen tests were provided to long term care facilities, IDPH has made a tool to make reporting possible for these facilities and others who don’t have access to the state reporting system now. We expect that the availability and use of rapid care antigen testing to increase rapidly within the next months. This trend will only continue as new tests are coming into the market.
Since August 27, 84,679 antigen tests have been included in the data—more than 14,000 per week. As access to testing has increased, so has the number of Iowans who have been tested multiple times. Test volume could skyrocket, she said. More than 1.3 million tests have been conducted in the state. Reporting the total number of tests rather than individuals tested will be more in line with how we monitor other respiratory viruses, like the flu, and a better indicator of virus activity. Dr. Pedati, State Epidemiologist, and others are, examining this issue to bring her a recommendation next week of whether to change the reporting of testing data.
As new information becomes available, we should expect that change will be necessary as our response evolves, the Governor said. They are committed to being transparent in data reporting. The CDC ranks Iowa 25th in the nation for test perform and 17 for test per 100,000. They are exceeding the goal at regional and national level according to the CDC weekly report, she said. They are further expanding testing capacity and adding two new Test Iowa sites.
Three Test Iowa clinic sites are scheduled to open next week in Buena Vista, Wapello and Winneshiek counties.
On Monday, October 12, testing will begin at Buena Vista Regional Medical Center Clinic, located at 1525 West 5th Street in Storm Lake. Regular hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; and Friday, 9 a.m. to noon. The clinic site will replace the current Test Iowa drive-thru site located at Sunrise Golf Course in Storm Lake, which will close when testing concludes at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 9.
A clinic site will also open on Monday, October 12, at Winneshiek Medical Center, 901 Montgomery Street in Decorah. The drive-thru test site will be open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Wapello County Test Iowa Clinic, located at 1207 North Jefferson in Ottumwa, will open Wednesday, October 14. Hours are Monday through Friday, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Testing is available to anyone, regardless of symptoms, but individuals must first complete an assessment at testiowa.com and schedule an appointment as directed.
Clinic sites are partnerships between the State of Iowa and local health care providers to increase access to COVID-19 testing in communities across the state. The state provides testing supplies and equipment, and processes samples through the State Hygienic Lab. Health care providers are responsible for operating and staffing the sites.
A complete listing of Test Iowa locations is available at testiowa.com and coronavirus.iowa.gov.
Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 95,644 Iowans have tested positive, up 1,303 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 840,927 tested. 5 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 1,419 deaths. Now 74,145 Iowans have recovered. The overall positivity rate is 11.4% and the total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 8.7%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 449 hospitalized COVID-19 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.
Currently 14 counties are above 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days: