DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds, during a press conference on Tuesday morning, called on Congress to pass COVID-19 relief to help Iowa’s struggling small businesses and families.
Noting mitigation measures she implemented in November, she said, “These are not steps that I take lightly because I understand the impact that they have on Iowans, but I believe they were necessary at the time. We’ve remained targeted in our approach. And while I didn’t close any businesses, the limited hours of operations and the social distancing requirements have had an impact on our hospitality industry through no fault of their own. It’s time for Congress to come together and get a relief package passed and get some relief to our small businesses and Iowa families who are suffering.”
Before that, Reynolds pointed to some progress.
“I am pleased to say that we’re seeing steady signs of improvement. But we still have much work to do to improve our current situation and ensure that we can effectively and responsibly manage it throughout the winter months,” she said.
She stated during the first week of November, Iowa reported more than 28,000 new cases of COVID-19. The statewide average positivity rate that week was nearly 32 percent. The following week November 8-14, saw new cases rise to almost 30,000, with the positivity rate was just under 29 percent. Reynolds noted that hospitalizations began climbing at an alarming rate on November 10.
She noted that she implemented additional mitigation measures, including mask requirements for indoor public spaces, restrictions on some organized sports, reducing inpatient elective procedures, and limited the hours of operations for bars and restaurants.
The following week saw a slight decrease and a positivity rate of 21 percent, but last week saw COVID-19 numbers drop even more. Reynolds noted from November 22 to 28, Iowa saw 14,000 new cases of COVID-19, which was half of what the state reported the following week. The positivity rate dropped six percent to 15 percent.
“So even though most testing stopped for the day of Thanksgiving, more than 95,000 Iowans were still tested last week, which is several thousand more than were tested during the first week of November. And further results indicate that the decline in cases and positivity isn’t simply because of the holiday. At a local level, many counties are reporting positivity rates over time that are either stabilizing or decreasing. We’ve also seen the hospitalization rate decrease almost day over day since its peak on November 17. Equally encouraging, new admissions and ICU utilization are also declining,” she said.
She noted that outbreaks in long-term care facilities continue to increase. Reynolds said that the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Inspection and Appeals work closely with these facilities to ensure they enact adequate infection control and other mitigation measures.
Reynolds said the state is watching for a bump in numbers after the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Now that Thanksgiving has passed, we’re also going to be closely monitoring case counts, positivity rate, and hospitalization over the next two weeks for any significant increase. Experience has shown us that holiday events can result in an increase in new cases after family and friends have gathered to celebrate. However, we are cautiously optimistic that the mitigation efforts currently in place are achieving what they are intended to do. And that is to decrease the spread of the virus and get it into a more manageable level,” she stated.