Good afternoon, and thank you again for joining us for today’s COVID-19 update. I am here to report that today we have 22 more positive cases in Iowa, that brings the total positive COVID-19 cases to 90 since March 8th and they are in 24 counties. We had 166 tests that were negative bringing the total of negative tests to 1,215. In addition, today, I signed a disaster emergency proclamation that takes additional steps to protect Iowans and to mitigate the spread of the virus. Effective at 10:00 p.m. today, salons and barbershops, medical spas, massage therapy, tattoo establishments, tanning salons, and swimming pools will be closed until March 31st. Also, foreclosures will be suspended on residential, commercial and agricultural properties. Also, licensing relief for medical professionals will ensure that doctors and nurses and other who are ready to step up and serve are able to do so. Additional relief will be provided for all Iowans with professional licenses so they won’t have to gather for in-person continuing education or worrying about their license expiring during this disaster.
You know it’s hard to believe, but one week ago I recommended that Iowa schools temporarily close for four weeks to help mitigate and slow the spread of the virus across our state. And since that time Iowans have asked, “what about child care?” And this question has generated many opinions and high emotions among Iowans from border to border and we certainly understand why. You know as a grandmother of 10 young children I share your concern during this very uncertain time. Our children are precious and we want to always ensure their health and safety. Many people felt that when school closed childcare should also close but the two decisions are not the same. Each has consequences that impact families but in the situation that we face today, the impact of closing childcare is significantly different. The reality is if childcare closes, parents of young children who are employed in essential services such as healthcare, emergency services, food production and supply, and manufacturing won’t be able to work and now more than ever we need these essential services up and running. These workers are needed to care for Iowans who are and may become sick with COVID-19 so that we can continue to provide emergency services and law enforcement, to keep grocery stores stocked and open and to ensure the manufacturing and delivery of critical service supplies continue. We need to support them at this time by continuing to care for their young children so that they can do what’s necessary to serve the needs of Iowans. My team, along with the Department of Public Health, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Education, have spent a lot of time considering how to keep childcare open, to look for ways to increase access and best protect our youngest Iowans.
In a few minutes I’m going to have the Department of Human Services Director, Garcia, share information about new practices for existing childcare centers and I will also have Director Lebo give you an update on our education system. But first, I want to address the proactive steps that we’re taking now to increase child care availability and capacity during this time. The Department of Human Services and the Department of Education have reached out to all of Iowa’s 99 counties to determine where childcare is needed most to support the continuation of essential services. We’re partnering with school superintendents, community organizations, and churches across the state to identify space and volunteers so we can quickly stand up childcare programs for school-aged children whose parents are essential employees, especially in areas that are most impacted by the COVID-19 at this time. Some communities have already stepped up. 117 school districts and non-public schools have said that they’re willing and able to provide the space needed for childcare programs and 94 of those have staff to get a program up and running. Starting tomorrow, in Council Bluffs Community School District, we will be registering children of essential workers at Longfellow Elementary for a program that will serve 120 children from preschool through 6th grade. The program will start Tuesday and will be free of charge for families in the area. Waterloo and Van Meter school districts are also committed to providing this need for their communities and are working hard to have programs in place soon. So, the biggest need we have right now is space where we can safely stand up these childcare programs. I’m asking schools, churches, and other community facilities to join us in being a part of this solution. If you have the space, we have a plan to quickly put a program in place. We’re ready to do what’s necessary to support Iowa’s essential workers and their families at this critical time.
And I want to express — just once again — my heartfelt gratitude to them for all they’re doing now to protect the health and safety and well-being of Iowans. We stand with you and your families and we are here to help. So, with that I want to invite Director Garcia to give an update to you about new childcare mitigation requirements and to give more detailed information on what we can do to ramp up healthcare. But, before I do that, I want to especially thank Kelly and her team who’ve been working around the clock to meet the needs of many Iowans across this state. We have incredible state workforce that’s just working around the clock to meet the needs of Iowans. Kelly?
[Other officials speak]
Reynolds, K.K. [DMRegister]. (2020, March 22). Gov. Kim Reynolds updates Iowans on the COVID-19 outbreak in Iowa (3.22.20) [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4v7-74WP6zA]. Retrieved on April 16, 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/user/DMRegister.