Kim Reynolds

Coronavirus Update – April 16, 2020

Kim Reynolds
April 16, 2020
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Good morning. We'll go ahead and start this morning's press conference with an update on the numbers. We had 146 new positive cases for a total of 2,141 positive cases. We've had no new counties at it today so the total remains in 82 counties. We had 660 negative cases today for a total of 8,534 negative cases. The State Hygienic Lab has 2,588 tests available. 987 Iowans have recovered for a recovery rate of 46%. I am so sorry to report that we have had seven additional deaths in the state of Iowa and that brings our total deaths to 60. And again, 49% of all deaths in Iowa are among residents from long-term care facilities across all of our RMCC regions. Yesterday there were 175 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, 24 were admitted in the last 24 hours, 84 patients are being treated in ICUs and 48 are on ventilators. Also, in hospitals across the region there are 4,072 inpatient beds, 396 ICU beds and 694 ventilators that are available for patient care. And again, I just want to remind our listeners that for more information including a breakdown of data by each of the individual regions or by county to go to

Today the Department of Public Health also has confirmed another two outbreaks in long-term care facilities. Linn Manor Care Center in Linn County and Lutheran Living Senior Campus in Muscatine County – and that brings our total of long-term care outbreaks to nine. We are continuing to monitor increased activity and long-term care and food production facilities in some areas of our state. And because we have been ramping up our testing capacity over the last few weeks, we now have the ability to conduct targeted surveillance testing in these facilities. Yesterday, as I had indicated, we sent an additional 900 tests to the Tyson plant in Louisa County and today 15,000 tests will be sent to another Tyson plant in Black Hawk County where another outbreak is suspected. Additional tests are also being sent to long-term care facilities in Bremer, Muscatine, Johnson, Dubuque and Linn counties. Increased testing at this time is critical to not only targeting virus activity and identifying potential risk but also in implementing specific measures to slow the spread within a facility, business or community. And also, it's going to be critical in making decisions to reopen up our state.

In the coming days we will be launching a new opportunity for Iowa and it's called Test Iowa. It is an initiative that will enable us to conduct large-scale testing and contact tracing across the state. Test Iowa will allow us to ramp up our capacity to over 3,000 tests per day in addition to the testing capacity that we currently have. We’re working on the operational plan now to deploy testing and I look forward to sharing more details about Test Iowa next week. We are also preparing to begin serology testing. We have two labs in the state that will run the test and as soon as the supplies or the reagents arrive, they'll be ready to go. And that is the antibody test that will tell if you've already had and recovered from COVID-19. Again, and that that will be just an important factor in making informed decisions about how we target our response and again, reopen the state of Iowa. Our ability to provide more testing will allow us to capture more data about the virus and better understand its activity in Iowa. The more that we know about COVID-19, the better we can manage it until a vaccine is available.

I've also asked the Department of Public Health has activated additional response teams dedicated to testing, contact tracing and prevention. Dedicated strike teams will be deployed to long term care facilities and large businesses where outbreaks are occurring or anticipated and these teams of nurses will conduct surveillance testing among long-term care residents and staff or employees at large manufacturing production or other business facilities, to again, identify, isolate and slow the spread of the virus in these environments. We are significantly increasing the number of nurses and other health care professionals that will be conducting contact tracing or surveillance to really help augment the great work that our local public health officials have been doing in addition to identifying potential exposure among residents in a community. They'll also be able to conduct follow-up and recovery assessments for each positive case. And finally, the Department of Public Health has also put together prevention teams that will conduct outreach to large businesses and law enforcement to review guidance for preventing and detecting outbreaks and provide education on what to do and if an outbreak is identified. And this approach will intentionally target areas of most concern across the state. As I have said from the start, I am committed to making data-driven decisions regarding our response to COVID-19 in Iowa, and today the data tells us that region six has elevated to a level 10, and this is due in large part to the long-term care facility outbreaks, the severity of the illness, and the rate of hospitalization. But it also takes into account the increase of virus activity in that area of the state. By using regional data we're able to recognize trends and adjust our mitigation efforts to more effectively address specific measures to slow the spread of the virus in a defined area. So, today based on the ranking we are implementing additional mitigation steps in region six effective at 11:59 p.m. tonight. In all region six counties all gatherings for social, community, recreational, leisure or sporting activities will cease through April 30th. You may gather only with members of your immediate household. Limited exceptions will be made for weddings, funerals and other religious gatherings which will continue to be restricted to 10 people or less. Individuals are also required to make every reasonable effort to stay at least 6 feet away from others when they are away from home. Businesses are encouraged to follow guidance provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health regarding infection prevention measures to protect employees and customers and of course residents of region six and all other Iowans should take personal responsibility for their health and the health of others by staying home as much as possible, leaving only for essential errands. Work from home if you can, if you can't then make sure you’re practicing good hygiene practices and practicing social distance as much as possible. Isolate at home if you or a member of your household is sick and if you need medical attention please call the doctor first.

COVID-19 is now part of our life but it will not always dictate how we live. We will continue to monitor the data and adjust our mitigation strategies as necessary, as we're doing today in region six but I believe that before long we will see more signs of progress and we will begin to get life back to normal. So, as we may be dialing down a little bit today in region six, we're also looking for opportunities and a criteria and metrics that will allow us - when we can do it responsibly - to start to dial things up as well. So, if you continue to do your part, we’re going to be talking about that sooner rather than later. As we've said all along, we're all in this together and we're going to get through it together as well.

So, in closing, I want to thank a friend of mine, and that's Ashton Kutcher, for his help to encourage Iowans to stay home during this critical time to protect their health and the health of others. And I want to share the PSA that we will be releasing today and I want to thank again Ashton Kutcher for his help in making that happen.

[#IowansUnite PSA plays]

And with that we’ll open it up for questions.

Reynolds, K.K. [We Are Iowa Local 5 News]. (2020, April 16). Gov. Kim Reynolds press conference on Iowa's COVID-19 response (April 16, 2020). [] Retrieved on February 14, 2022 from