Phase 1B vaccine guidance adjusted

Thursday, January 21, 2021

DES MOINES — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced an update to the Group 1B eligibility groups for the COVID-19 vaccination during her Thursday press conference.

While the recommendation from the Iowa Infectious Disease Advisory Council for Group 1B listed the age group of those 75 and older as eligible to receive the vaccine, Reynolds updated that tier to make more older adults eligible.

“Beginning Feb. 1, Iowans age 65 and older will be eligible for vaccination. And this accounts for more than 500,000 Iowans,” Reynolds said. “In early February, Tier I, which includes law enforcement and first responders, PK-12 teachers and staff, early childhood educators and child care workers, can begin vaccination at local pharmacies or clinics. And collectively, this tier accounts for approximately 130,000 Iowans.”

“While we’re excited to begin vaccinating a broader population of Iowans, we again need to emphasize that the demand for the vaccine will vastly exceed our supply,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds noted Iowa’s currently rolling 14-day average is at 11.2 percent and the seven day rolling average is at 8.4 percent.

Hospitalizations have steadily decreased over the last few weeks as well. On Thursday, there were 474 people hospitalized, with 86 of them in ICU. Of those hospitalized, 74 percent are age 60 or older.

“Our goal continues to be to keep the virus activity at a level we can manage during the course of our daily lives and I think we are demonstrating that we can do that,” she said.

Currently Iowa receives 19,500 doses of vaccine each week.

Reynolds said Iowa is doing a lot with the small amount of vaccine.

She indicated Iowa ranks 46th nationally with the amount of vaccine doses allocated to the state but ranks 15th in the country for administration of those doses.

“While we’re excited to begin vaccinating a broader population of Iowans, we again need to emphasize that the demand for the vaccine will vastly exceed our supply,” Reynolds said.

“With our current allocation from the federal government of 39,000 per week beginning Feb. 9, this process is just going to take time.”

She explained each subsequent tier in Group 1B will be phased in as soon as possible according to the availability of the vaccines and where they are at throughout the state.

Tier 2 will include frontline essential workers and individuals with disabilities living in home setting. That total is approximately 600,000 individuals.

Tier 3 will include staff and individuals in congregate settings and also government officials and staff at the state capitol. Those groups total approximately 13,000 individuals.

Tier 4 includes 1,500 inspectors responsible for health, life and safety.

Tier 5 consists of approximately 13,000 staff and incarcerated individuals in correctional facilities.

Reynolds said once Group 1B is completed, half of Iowa’s population will be vaccinated.

Iowa Department of Public Health Interim Director Kelly Garcia said vaccinations for those age 65 and over with high risk or most exposure will start the week of Feb. 1.

Garcia urges people to listen to local health officials for updates.

Reynolds said the state is working with pharmacies and clinics to make vaccines available in more settings, such as Hy-Vee and Medicap pharmacies. These clinics already provide COVID-19 testing.

In a new development, Reynolds announced a new grant program for restaurant and bar owners who have been affected through the pandemic.

“I am pleased to announce a new grant program that will provide financial relief for restaurants and bars that were impacted during the pandemic,” Reynolds said.

The Iowa Restaurant and Bar Relief Grant Program will provide $40 million in funding for businesses that experienced a decrease in gross sales during the second and third quarters of 2020 compared to the same time the previous year.

The one-time grants are intended to assist with short-term cash flow and award amounts up to $25,000 will be tiered based on the percent of lost sales.

Reynolds said she appreciated the work of Iowa Representative Shannon Lundgren and Brian K. Lohse with the Iowa Economic Development Authority to help create the program.

The program is intended to help hard hit restaurants and bars in communities across the state to help them recover, bring their employees back to work and to keep their doors open, Reynolds said.

The application period begins Monday, Feb. 1 and will close at 5 p.m., Monday, Feb. 15.

All applications submitted by the deadline will be considered.

Details on how to apply for the grant will posted Feb. 1 at www.iowabusinessrecovery.com.

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