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Iowa beginning to see COVID-19 curve flatten

Iowa beginning to see COVID-19 curve flatten

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Although the new number of positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Iowa hit a one-day high of 125, state public health officials say they are beginning to an overall flattening of the curve.

Twenty-nine Iowans now have died from COVID-19, Gov. Kim Reynolds said in her daily briefing, and the total number of positive cases has climbed to 1,270 since the epidemic was first noted in Iowa on March 8.

A good sign, the governor noted, was that 882 Iowans tested negative for coronavirus, pushing that number to 13,703 overall.

The latest IDPH numbers show that 115 Iowans are hospitalized for illnesses or symptoms related to COVID-19 while 476 Iowans have recovered from the disease. Iowa now has 2,530 tests available via the state hygienic lab and more capacity for mobile testing at various “hot spots” around the state, the governor said.

The good news, Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, said is that all of the mitigation efforts the governor and the department have been advising appear to be paying off. Public health officials have been predicting that the positive case numbers would continue to rise “and that’s remained true.”

“I can tell you that when we look at our epidemiological curve, it is starting to flatten, which is where we want to be,” Reisetter said. The curve refers to the projected number of people who will contract COVID-19 over a period of time.

However, it’s not time to relax the mitigation strategies Iowans have been encouraged to employ — staying at home as much as possible, leaving home only for essential trips, such as visits to the grocery store or pharmacy, Reisetter said.

The data showing the curve flattening is evidence “Iowans are listening and that means that it is time to continue to do those things so we don’t start moving in the wrong direction,” she said.

If the curve continues to flatten, Reynolds and Reisetter said, the state may be able to look at antibody testing, which is seen as a step toward “re-opening” the state.

“That is actually something that we are really excited about,” Reisetter said, adding that like COVID-19 testing, “it goes to testing supplies.”

Antibody testing would be used to analyze people that might not otherwise have been tested, she explained. People who might have been mildly ill and not been tested for COVID-19, people who practiced social distancing and stayed home and recovered could be tested.

“We're really looking forward to learning more about that and to having the supplies become available so that we can start to employ that,” Reisetter said.

As to re-opening the state, Reynolds did not lay out a time table. She will notify local education administrators sometime next week whether she intends to extend her school closure order beyond April 30.

However, how quickly Iowa can begin to get back to normal depends on well Iowans adhere to COVID-19 mitigation, Reynolds said. Although she wasn’t asked about her decision not to order Iowans to shelter at home, Reynolds called on Iowans to continue follow her executive orders on business closings and no large gatherings.

“So what I would like everyone to do is to help me elevate that message, helped me raise the volume,” she said. Iowans should encourage one another “to social distance, to do the right thing. If we do that ... we can start to open things back up and get the state and this country back to some normal.

“Let's focus on what we need to be doing, what we can do by being individually responsible. We all have a role to play. We can change the narrative. We can flatten the curve. We can get through this together if we all do what we need to do.”

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