think we’ll go ahead and get started. So, good afternoon. Late yesterday afternoon we were informed of Iowa’s first death related to the COVID-19 virus. I want to extend the thoughts and prayers of our state to the family during this difficult time. Out of respect for them we will not share specific details about their loved ones but I can confirm that the individual who passed away was an older adult age 61 to 80 years of age and a resident of Dubuque County. And again, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this difficult time. As reported earlier this morning, today we have 21 new positive cases for a total of 145 positive cases in Iowa. There are now 2578 total negative tests. One new county was added today for a total of 31 counties and today the total for hospitalized is 23 as of last evening.
The mitigation efforts and polices that we’ve put in place are intentional to protect Iowans most at risk and those are older adults above the age of 60 and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. Eight out of the ten deaths reported in the United States have been in adults 65 years and older. As the virus continues to spread it’s even more important that those most vulnerable take extra precautions to reduce their risk of being exposed and of course getting sick. If you’re a family member, a friend, or a caregiver for someone at higher risk for COVID-19 there are important steps that you can take to protect their health. Know the medications they’re taking and see if you can help them have enough on hand, monitor any medical supplies they need and create a back-up plan, stay in regular contact so you know how you can help or if their health changes. Now is a critical time when each of us can make a difference on the impact that COVID-19 will have in Iowa. We all have a role and a responsibility to mitigate the spread of the virus and protect the health of our fellow Iowans. So, as I’ve said at every one of these press conferences, please do your part and help us all protect our vulnerable.
I also want to assure Iowans that the state is doing our part to ensure that we are prepared to do whatever may be necessary to protect Iowans during this time. Every day we are assessing our mitigation efforts to slow the spread of the virus and determining whether or not it’s time to turn the dial up or turn the dial down. We are making these decisions based on metrics outlined by the Department of Public Health that they laid out yesterday. Those metrics will indicate what and when additional steps should be taken. Again, they are based on the percentage of population that is 65 or older, the percentage of the identified cases requiring hospitalization, the rate of infection per 100,000 Iowans in the past 14 days, and the number of outbreaks in settings like long-term care facilities where our older populations and Iowans with underlying health conditions live. We’re seeing some states issue shelter in place or stay at home orders causing some to ask: “Why not Iowa?”. In fact, many of the steps that we have already taken are equivalent to the stay at home orders that we are seeing in several of these states, like closing schools and some businesses implementing work from home and distant learning and reducing gatherings to 10 people. The significant steps we’ve taken will help mitigate the spread of the virus, protect the most vulnerable Iowans and reduce our risk of overwhelming our health care system. It’s important also that we keep Iowa open for business in a responsible way that protects the health of our people and our economy. We are working to provide relief to Iowa businesses and employees out of work and making sure that they can access the resources they need. To those Iowans who are out of work and have been unable to apply for unemployment online — we hear you. The Iowa Workforce Development has increased the capacity of its mainframe working with OCIO and redeveloped field office staff to work in the call center so that they call process more claims. Approximately 250 staff are now answering calls for Iowans who need them.
Finally, I’d like to end today with a positive update about PPE. While it continues to be an issue, yesterday Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Iowa National Guard began receiving and distributing PPE to counties across Iowa. The Iowa National Guard conducted 26 missions yesterday, 23 are happening today, and more are planned for tomorrow and these are going to counties all across the state and based on critical need. As we’ve said all along there is a national shortage of PPE, so this isn’t everything that’s needed but we continue to work with our federal partners and our suppliers and as soon as the product comes in. We’re getting it out where it is needed most. I want to thank Director Flynn and General Corell and their teams for all that they do every single day to help stand up the SEOC as well as the PPE out to those who need it.
With that, I think we’ll open it up for questions.
Reynolds, K. K. [DMRegister]. (2020, March 25). Gov. Kim Reynolds updates Iowans on the COVID-19 outbreak in Iowa (3.25.20) [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6YABfn4OOA]. Retrieved on May 12, 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/user/DMRegister.