Iowans should exercise personal responsibility

Monday, May 18, 2020

DES MOINES "Today, more than 100,000 Iowans have been tested for COVID-19 for a per capita rate of 1 in 31 Iowans tested, and that is unique tests, there is no duplications," Gov. Kim Reynolds said as she opened Monday's press conference.

A total of 7,324 persons have recovered, with a recovery rate of 49 percent.

"Hospitalizations remain stable and it's been 18 days since we reported Iowa's highest positive cases and days to double is now at 21 days," she said. "We continue to trend in the right direction, further validating that the time is right to move into the recovery phase and to begin opening up Iowa."

Over the weekend, opening up meant some people went out to eat at a local restaurant, worked out in their gym or finally got a hair cut.

Not all businesses opened immediately. Some are taking additional time to ensure they and their staff are prepared to implement preventative measures designed to protect themselves and their customers, the governor said. Others may choose to wait on resuming some of their regular activities.

"Only you know what's best for you and your family," she said.

"The decision to ease restrictions and allow some businesses to re-open at limited capacity is not a mandate to do so, nor it is a requirement that Iowans dine out, shop, or do anything they're not ready to do. I've asked everyone to exercise personal responsibility from the very beginning," Reynolds said.

She pointed out today (Monday) begins week 11 since COVID-19 was confirmed in Iowa.

"We're at a point where we can and must strike a balance between managing virus activity for the long-term and getting our economy up and running again. It's not a matter of prioritizing one over the other, it's about prioritizing both. The long-term consequences of keeping businesses closed are far reaching and could have an even greater impact on Iowans than the virus itself," she said.

Iowa's aggressive testing strategy allows Iowa health officials to monitor virus activity across the state and deploy targeted strategies right down to a zip code to help contain and manage it, she explained. Expanding testing has also generated significantly more data, better enabling evidence-based decision making in real time.

"While we do refer to models and projections from external partners and other resources and appreciate the information that they provide, we know they're based on assumptions at a certain point in time. So we rely more heavily on our real-time data, and our expert team of epidemiologists, the Department of Public Health, who are all studying it every day. They are also consulting with their colleagues nationally, including the CDC and the Coronavirus Task Force," Reynolds said.

Sharing that data with Iowans is an important part of keeping everyone informed of what is happening in the state.

"A couple days ago we updated the dashboard on coronavirus.iowa.gov so Iowans could have access to more of the data we are collecting and tracking. Last week, the update earned us an A-plus from the Covid Tracking Project. Iowa is one of just 10 states that earned the top grade for the quality of our COVID-19 data reporting.

"Today I am pleased to share that we are raising the bar even higher. Later this afternoon, we will be implementing yet another update to our data dashboard, and sharing even more data with Iowans," Reynolds said.

The biggest change will be in the case count numbers, which will now be updated in real time throughout the day, so Iowans can see the numbers coming in on a same-day basis.

"Previously we scheduled updates to happen at a specific time each day, so that new positive and negative cases could be reported daily, either at my press conference or by the media. Because we are now moving to rolling updates in real time, the need to provide new daily case counts is obsolete. You will be able to see exactly where the numbers stand whenever you decide to check the website," she continued.

"If you are tracking the information closely, you will also see daily case counts and other data can change over time, and this is due to the case investigation process," Reynolds said.

Reports will also be given on serology testing.

Reynolds said more information on the website updates will be presented at Tuesday's press conference.

"I am also pleased to report a new dedicated call center for Test Iowa is up and running today. The call center is staffed by nurses who can assist Iowans who have completed an assessments, or have been tested and have questions about the Test Iowa process, have issues with getting results, or what to do if they have tested positive. The call center can answer questions about assessment, but they can't assist Iowans with filling it out," she said.

The number is provided on the website.

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