Reynolds focuses on Iowa COVID-19 testing

Thursday, May 7, 2020

DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds reported Thursday that her meeting with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday focused on the testing strategy Iowa is doing to track COVID-19 across the state.

“I was also proud to be joined on the trip by Dr. (Caitlin) Pedati State Public Health Medical Director and Epidemiologist), who shared with the President and others what she and the team at the Department of Public Health are seeing in the data as it relates to virus activity,” Reynolds said. “She did such a good job in answering the president’s questions that during the press conference he invited her to be a part of the Coronavirus Task Force and one of the reasons. I think this is really exciting is because there is no representation from a state level on the Coronavirus Task Force.I think that will allow a state’s perspective to be heard as we work through the coronavirus pandemic.”

Reynolds said the visit also allowed her an opportunity to highlight Iowa’s role in feeding the nation and the world and some of the significant challenges Iowans are faced with.

“I was able to highlight that 10 percent of the nation’s food supply is produced by Iowa’s farmers’ nearly 80 percent of our work was essential and remained open as we move through COVID-19; our strong manufacturing base that is focused on food processing and supply chain, our essential work force and infrastructure is critical in keeping the food supply chain open and moving and food on the table,” she said.

“We talked about the pro-active measures that we are taking to protect our most vulnerable Iowans and keep essential workers safe while businesses are up and operating. The importance of PPE, the CDC and OSHA guidelines for processing plants and the Defense Production Act,” she said.

She also shared how strike teams are conducting surveillance testing, diagnostic or serology of employees, and sometimes both, at long term care facilities, manufacturing and processing plants and how that has helped identify positive cases, isolate those who test positive, and understand the scope of the virus activity.

“I also talked about the launch of Test Iowa and the importance of assessments and increase testing capacity, again, to help us manage virus activity, protect the health of Iowans and get our economy back on track,” Reynolds said.

She also explained how the Iowa National Guard, the Department of Public Health and the Iowa Department Human Services are used to expand the case investigation teams.

Reynolds announced a number of improvements and updates to the coronavirus.iowa.gov website, which will offer information in a more timely manner.

Previously information posted was from a time period, for example, 10 a.m., Tuesday to 10 a.m., Wednesday, which she reported on Thursday.

The reporting time frame is now 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m., of the previous day.

Because of the change in reporting time frame, the total case counts today (Thursday, May 7) included 10 a.m., Tuesday, May 5, through 11:59 p.m., Wednesday May 7, Reynolds said.

Also on Wednesday, Reynolds signed a proclamation which permits dental services to resume in compliance with guidelines adopted by the Iowa Dental Board, permits some additional businesses and establishments to reopen throughout Iowa in a limited fashion with appropriate public health measures in place, and provides additional regulatory relief to assist Iowans affected by this disaster.

Effective at 5 a.m., Friday, May 8, and continuing to 11:59 p.m., May 15, campgrounds, drive-in movie theaters, tanning facilities and medical spas may re-open following the rules of ensuring social distancing, increasing hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The proclamation also is modified to include the following openings in the 22 counties under tighter restrictions: fitness centers and other retail establishments. This includes Woodbury County.

As far as school state date for the 2020-2021 school calendar, the proclamation temporarily suspends the regulatory provisions of Iowa Code to the extent that it prohibits a school district or accredited nonpublic school from beginning its school calendar before Aug. 23, 2020, but only if the school district adopts a calendar as a part of its Return to Learn Plan submitted to the Iowa Department of Education that ensures that any instructional time scheduled before Aug. 23, 2020, is in excess of the minimum instructional time of 180 days or 1,080 hours. This suspension applies only to the 2020-2021 school calendar as a result of the school closures ordered during this public health disaster emergency.

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