Good morning. We'll go ahead and start with an update on the numbers. Today we have 118 new positive cases for a total of 1,388 positive. We have two new counties — Osceola and Union — for a total of 81 counties. We have 862 negative cases today for a total of 14,565 negative. The State Hygienic Lab has 1,974 tests available. As of last evening, we have a 119 hospitalized, 506 recovered — for a recovery rate of 36%. And I'm very sad to report that we have had an additional two deaths, one older and one elderly adult both in Linn County, for a total of 31 deaths. Over the course of the last month we have implemented significant mitigation strategies aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 across our state, including closing businesses and schools. And while these steps are necessary at this critical time, it’s important not to overlook the unintended consequences that they have on Iowa families.
More than 354,000 Iowans are already facing food insecurity and now these families and others may be dealing with the recent loss of jobs, children out of school and trouble making ends meet. Iowa's six Feeding America food banks and their 1,200 community partners across the state provided 38 million meals to Iowans in need last year. And while COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything we've ever experienced, they remained committed to feeding even more Iowa families during these challenging times. In March alone, Iowa food pantries helped 65% more Iowans with applications for food assistance than this time last year. But as the number of food insecure Iowans increases, so does demand on our food banks and pantries. With restaurants open for carryout and delivery food donations are down and less food is being rescued from grocery stores to stock food pantries. To help meet this challenge I have created the Feeding Iowans task force and I have asked the Lieutenant Governor — Lieutenant Governor Gregg — to lead this effort. He will be joined with individuals from the Iowa Food Bank, members of my team and representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Emergency Management, the Department of Public Health, Department of Human Services, Department of Ed., Department of Aging and of course Volunteer Iowa. I’ve charged the task force with raising awareness of hunger related issues, identifying potential gaps in the system, connecting resources to ensure that Iowans have food on their tables and making sure that Iowans know where to go to get help. If you're in immediate need of food please go to your nearest food bank or food pantry or go to coronavirus.iowa.gov for food assistance information where you'll find links to programs from the Department of Human Services, Department of Public Health, Education, Aging and other state agencies. Thanks to funding through the Cares Act, food banks and most state programs will receive additional resources that will allow more flexibility in delivering services and expanding eligibility.
Everyday Iowans can also lend a hand. Food banks, pantries, emergency meal sites and shelters need volunteers. Nearly 40% of the volunteer force that keeps food banks operating is made up of older adults who are of course at most risk and need to stay home and they're doing as they should to protect their health. Volunteer Iowa has launched COVID-19 volunteer portal that includes more than 75 postings of high-need volunteer opportunities across Iowa. So, if you're healthy, low risk and do not live with anyone who is ill or at high risk, please consider volunteering to assist the meal packing and distribution at your local food bank or pantry. And again, you can find more information about that at coronavirus.iowa.gov.
Finally, I want to take just a moment to thank the organizations and businesses who have stepped up to contribute generously to this important cause. Iowa is a state that feeds the world, so it’s no wonder that Iowans answered the call to feed their own when the need arises. Thank you to the following for their donations to food banks and meal programs across the state of Iowa. Iowa Pork Producers have donated 12,000 pounds of pork, Iowa Beef Council: 5,500 beef sticks, AE dairy is donating milk for distribution through our Des Moines public schools. Tyson Foods has donated 200,000 pounds of products equaling eight million meals. Iowa egg farmers continue their commitment to providing 35,000 dozen eggs each month. Smithville foods: 27,000 pounds of pork processed and packaged by Midwest Premier. Lynch livestock companies have donated 30,000 pounds of pork and the Lynch Family Foundation and Premium Iowa Pork will be donating 250,000 pounds of pork over the next six months. I also want to thank Corteva Agriscience for the 100,000 matching donation to assist food banks of Iowa, the Iowa farm Bureau foundation for their 100,000 donation to the Iowa Food Bank Association and Mid America Energy whose foundation has contributed or donated 500,000 to support Iowa food insecurity relief at this time. You are making a difference in the life of Iowans at a time when it is much needed and I just want to say, again, thank you for your generous support.
As we end the week, I wanted to provide another look at the data for RMCC regions one, five and six — where COVID-19 has had the most impact in our state. At the RMCC region which includes the Des Moines metro area — they had 30 COVID patients hospitalized yesterday, one new patient was emitted in the last 24 hours, eight were in ICUs and six were on ventilators. Other resources available for patient care included 1,338 inpatient beds, we have available in that region, 157 ICU beds and 218 ventilators. In region five, where Johnson County and Scott County is located, there were 39 COVID-19 patients hospitalized yesterday, 12 new patients were admitted the last 24 hours, 14 were in ICUs and six were on ventilators. There were 675 inpatient beds available, 79 ICU beds and 156 ventilators. In region six which includes Linn County — and yesterday there were 49 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, three new patients were admitted in the last 24 hours, 27 were in ICU and 16 we're on ventilators. They have the availability for 1,170 inpatient beds, 78 ICU beds and 127 ventilators available for patient care. While our hospital capacity and resources look good, one issue that continues to be a challenge in Iowa and across the country is a shortage of PPE. The Department of Public Health has issued guidance on PPE usage over the last several weeks and today they are taking additional steps to preserve PPE supplied during this time and I've asked Sarah Reister to provide more information about that. Sarah?
[Sarah Reister speaks]
Thank you, Sarah, I appreciate that. So, when we started this week, you know, I told Iowans that it could be a difficult one and it has been. As we've watched our numbers of positive cases and deaths continue to increase but we have also had some reassuring signs as well. We are seeing our recovery rate increase and our curve began to flatten and which our early indicators that we are doing the right things but our work is not yet done. As I have now, for more than a month, I am asking Iowans to continue to do your part to slow the spread of the virus. Your efforts, they are making a difference, so please continue to stay home if you can. Leave only for essential errands, practice social distancing — we know it works — don't gather in groups of more than 10 and if you have a member of your family that is sick or you are sick, isolate at home. And if we continue to take these simple steps seriously, we will get through this sooner rather than later. And with that we'll open it up for questions.
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