Kim Reynolds

Coronavirus Update – April 17, 2020

Kim Reynolds
April 17, 2020
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Good morning. We'll go ahead and start with an update on the numbers for today. With 191 new positive cases for a total of 2,323 positive cases. We have no new counties to report today so the total counties remain at 82. We've had 926 negative cases today for a total of 19,460 negative tests and overall tested 21,792. The state hygienic lab has 10,588 tests available. We have 1,007 Iowans that have recovered for a recovery rate of 43%. I’m sorry to report that we have had an additional four deaths for a total of 64 deaths in Iowa and again, just our sincerest condolences go out to the families. 13% of all positive cases in Iowa are related to long-term care facility outbreaks and 45% of all deaths in Iowa are among residents of long-term care facilities. Across all of our RMCC regions yesterday there were 183 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, 19 were admitted in the last 24 hours, 88 patients are being treated in ICUs, and 52 are on ventilators. Also, in hospitals across the state there are 7,966 inpatient beds, 566 ICU beds, and 676 ventilators available for patient care. And just a reminder for more information and breakdown by data, by county, or by region go to

So, today I want to provide a brief update that the Department of Public Health is working closely with some of our processing plants - the Tyson plants, especially in Columbus Junction and Waterloo - in an effort to test all employees and conduct contact tracing for all positive cases. Testing will conclude today at the Tyson plant in Columbus Junction. 2,700 tests are being sent today to the Tyson plant in Waterloo and the State Hygienic Lab will be running all completed tests over the weekend. I have had the opportunity to speak with the Tyson plant in Waterloo, I was able to do that last evening about the steps that they're taking to protect the health of their employees including temperature screenings; they are requiring masks to be on before they enter the facility; they are relaxing their attendance policy just to make sure that employees know that it is important that if they're sick to stay home; and they're providing regular communication in multiple languages. As we've said, environments where people are in close contact including processing plans and long-term care facilities are at risk for COVID-19 to spread rapidly if an exposure occurs. The Department of Public Health has activated additional support teams to help these businesses and others conduct testing, contact tracing as well as prevention. Yesterday we also talked about the importance of expanding testing capacity in Iowa so that we can better understand the level of the virus activity and again make targeted and informed decisions about reopening our state by increasing the number of Iowans tested either through diagnostic testing to confirm positive COVID-19 cases or through serology testing to determine if a person has had the virus. We can then target specific communities and businesses that are in a position to open back up in a way that is measured and responsible. So it really is a critical piece of us talking about how we start to reopen the state of Iowa back up. I know that the possibility of getting life back to normal sooner rather than later is what hardworking Iowans want, and it is absolutely what I want to as we continue to learn how to live with COVID-19 until a vaccine is available. We'll also learn how to carefully balance, not only the health of Iowans, but the health of our economy.

Yesterday afternoon I met with the state chief economist and agency directors from the Department of Revenue, Economic Development, Iowa Finance Authority Workforce, OCIO, Department of Human Services, Education, Department of Transportation and Lottery to really discuss parameters and guidelines for how we will stabilize recovery, recover and grow Iowa's economy. The team is working now to affirm objectives and measurements and as we move into the next phase of planning. We will be assembling a group that includes business and industry stakeholders to help provide input on challenges but also opportunities ahead and really help develop solutions to fuel the economy, the economic recovery and growth. I also had the opportunity to join a call yesterday with the President, the Vice President, and governors from all across this country to discuss guidelines for opening up America. The administration is proposing a phased approach based on up-to-date data and readiness that really, again, mitigates the risk of resurgence and protects the most vulnerable among us – and it can be implemented on a statewide or a county by county basis at the governor’s discretion. The plan that we're already discussing for Iowa really does align very well with what the president's plan is so there's a lot of similarities that we all have been looking at as we talk about targeting and then responsibly reopening our states. I’m grateful that the administration recognizes how important it is that each state make decisions based on what's best for the people and economy in our states and I look forward to continuing to partner at the federal level as well as the local level here in Iowa to make the best decisions to move our state forward.

As you know as we talk about medication steps and data that we've used to make targeted decisions throughout the whole COVID crisis. One of the first significant mitigation steps that we took in Iowa to slow the spread of the virus was recommending the closure of schools on March 15th. Then on April 2nd schools were closed until April 30th and school districts were required to inform the state of their intent to provide our students continuous learning opportunities for the kids that they serve. At that time, I said that I would assess the situation two weeks out to the April 30th date and provide further guidance on the possibility of reopening before the end of this regular scheduled school year. And believe me I would like nothing more than to stand before you today and announce that Iowa will be open for school in May, but as we look at what the data is telling us now I can't tell you with certainty, based on the Department of Public Health data that they’re providing to the office, that early May will be the right time for students, teachers, and staff to gather again in their classrooms. So, therefore, I regret to say that Iowa schools will not reopen for this school year but school districts will be required to continue to provide continuous learning opportunities for their students until the end of the regular school year. And here to share some more information about the decision and what will be expected of school districts as they prepare for the summer and fall is Department of Education director Ann Lebo.

[Ann Lebo speaks]

Thanks, Ann. And I just greatly appreciate all the work that you and the education tasks work force has done to initiate continuous learning and the work that you will do now to prepare districts to return to learn this fall. And again, to the superintendents and the teachers out there, also thanks for what you're doing to provide continuous learning to our students during this really tough time. And I want to thank the school districts for their student-centered approach as you begin to look ahead for new for the next year. This is an unprecedented time and you continue to help us reimagine how Iowa students can continue to learn regardless of the circumstances, so I look forward to working with you and learning more about the plans and the months to come.

So, in closing, I wanted to share some good news that will help I will begin to move forward. We have had 2,295 Iowa businesses that were approved for loans through the SBA paycheck protection program. And this will circulate 3.75 billion in the Iowa economy and keep thousands of Iowans working. I want to thank I was SBA lenders on reacting swiftly to help these businesses keep moving and to keep their employees hired. Iowa ranks in the top 20 of all states approved for funding and that was due to the quick response of Iowa banks and credit unions. Additionally, Iowa Economic Development Authority Small Business Relief Grant has sent 96% of the $24 million to over 1,200 Iowa businesses so they also have stood up a program so quickly and then got the funding out to the individuals who qualified for that. So, we're waiting on guidance from the US Treasury for the money that will be coming into Iowa so that we hope to expand those small business relief grants, we just need some additional information before we're able to talk about what our next steps are at for Iowa. So, with that we will open it up to questions.

Reynolds, K.K. [Iowa PBS]. (2020, April 17). Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Press Conference | April 17, 2020, 11 a.m. [] Retrieved on February 14, 2022 from