JOHNSTON, — The state has seen its largest one-day increase of infected Iowans in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic so far, bringing the statewide total to more than 1,000 positive cases and pushing the region containing Johnson County closer to the governor’s threshold of a stay-at-home order.
An additional 102 positive cases have been identified by public health officials, Gov. Kim Reynolds reported during her Tuesday news conference, putting the statewide count at 1,048 positive cases since the novel coronavirus was first identified in the state on March 8.
One death of an elderly adult, aged 81 and older, was announced in Benton County on Tuesday, bringing the statewide death toll to 26.
None of Iowa’s six health care regions have hit the threshold for more restrictions from state officials as of Tuesday. But the region that contains Iowa City, Region 5, has reached a 9 on the scale — just below the 10 marker that would call for a shelter-in-place order.
Region 5 contains 16 counties in the southeast part of the state, including Johnson County.
Iowa’s public health officials developed the 12-point scale to determine when the state would trigger specific mitigations around COVID-19. The metrics measure data points such as hospitalization rate, death rate and outbreaks in long-term care facilities, among other items, in the state’s six regions that are based on health care resources.
Reynolds did not say whether a 10-point score would automatically trigger a shelter in place for a particular region. According to guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health, such an order would entail “limiting movement to only essential activities for a period of up to 14 days with daily re-evaluation.”
“We are working on what that looks like,” Reynolds said Tuesday. “There are different variables we can take for the next step. Rest assured if we feel that needs to be done and that’s the recommendation from experts, we will move forward.”
She added that “the metric is a piece of what we’re looking at. There’s other assumptions that are going into the recommendations that are being made from the epidemiologist team, from the Iowa Department of Public Health, based on (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines and what they based their guidelines on.”
The health care region containing Linn County and 13 other northeast Iowa counties — Region 6 — scored an 8 as of Tuesday, Reynolds said.
The governor has received criticism throughout the state and nationally for her decision so far not to issue a shelter-in-place order. Iowa is among only a handful of states that hasn’t issued such a directive.
“I believe in the data, I believe in the strategy, I think it’s the right way to move forward,” Reynolds said.
She referred to remarks by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and adviser to President Donald Trump, during the White House’s briefing on Monday, when he spoke of a phone call with Reynolds and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts.
He said that “functionally, even though they have not given a strict stay-at-home, what they are doing is really functionally equivalent to that.”
“Iowa is not New York or California or New Jersey,” Reynolds said Tuesday. “We have different areas of the state experiencing different outbreaks, so it would be irresponsible for me to do a statewide (order) when, according to Dr. Fauci, many of the mitigation efforts I have put in place are actually aligned with the results they’re trying to get.
“We’re doing it on a community, county, region basis. We have the ability to take a look at what we’re seeing across the state.”
State officials also reported outbreaks in three long-term care facilities across Iowa, all of which are in eastern Iowa counties — Linn, Washington and Tama. Those facilities are Heritage Specialty Care in Cedar Rapids, McCreedy Home in Washington and the Premiere Estates of Toledo in Toledo, said Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, on Tuesday.
Officials did not state how many cases each facility had seen. An outbreak is defined as three or more positive cases in a facility’s staff and/or residents.
Reisetter said the public health department has requested long-term care facilities notify officials if they have two or more residents or staff exhibit symptoms of a respiratory illness, and so far the department has received no reports.
“We are paying close attention to those respiratory illness reports,” she said. “In addition to that, related specifically to COVID-19, we don’t have any facilities at this point in time that have confirmed cases in residents other than the three long-term care facility outbreaks.”
Iowa has more than 440 long-term care facilities — which include nursing homes and senior living centers — across the state. These facilities contain some of the most vulnerable population to complications from a COVID-19 infection.
Forty-six percent of Iowa’s 26 deaths had been long-term care residents, and 11 percent of total positive cases are among long-term care facility staff and residents, according to state officials.
In addition, between 22 percent to 23 percent of all positive cases in Iowa involve health care workers, Reisetter said. That’s about 230 infected individuals.
The governor also announced the establishment of Regional Medical Coordination Centers with the Iowa National Guard. Six locations, one in each of the state’s health care regions, will help coordinate medical supplies to areas of need.
Tuesday marked the addition of 1,017 negative tests, for a total of 11,670 negative tests, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab in Coralville and other labs. The state lab has 1,690 available tests.
At present, 104 Iowans are hospitalized with coronavirus-related illnesses or symptoms and 78 of Iowa’s 99 counties now have COVID-19 cases, with Linn County posting the most at 186.
It is followed by Johnson County with 134 cases, Polk County with 127, Scott County with 66 and Washington County with 57.
Iowans between the ages of 41 and 60 have the most positive cases with 387, followed by 307 among Iowans aged 18 to 40, 274 among Iowans aged 61 to 80, 69 among Iowans over the age of 80, and 11 below the age of 18.
So far, 555 women and 493 men have tested positive for COVID-19 in Iowa.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the locations and age ranges of the 102 individuals include:
• Benton County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
• Black Hawk County, three adults (18-40 years)
• Buena Vista County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
• Delaware County, one older adult (61-80 years)
• Des Moines County, two older adults (61-80 years)
• Dubuque County, one adult (18-40 years), one middle aged (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years)
• Greene County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
• Hamilton County, one adult (18-40 years)
• Henry County, one child (0-17 years), one adult (18-40 years), two middle-aged adults (41-60 years)
• Johnson County, 10 adults (18-40 years), four middle-aged adults (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years), one elderly adult (81 and older)
• Linn County, four adults (18-40 years), five middle-age adults (41-60 years), two older adults (61-80 years)
• Louisa County, seven adults (18-40 years), three middle-aged adults (41-60 years), three older adults (61-80 years)
• Mahaska County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
• Marion County, one adult (18-40 years)
• Marshall County, two adults (18-40 years)
• Muscatine County, two children (0-17 years), three adults (18-40 years), three middle-aged adults (41-60 years), two older adults (61-80 years)
• Polk County, one adult (18-40 years), one older adult (61-80 years)
• Pottawattamie County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
• Scott County, six adults (18-40 years), five middle-aged adults (41-60 years), three older adults (61-80 years)
• Story County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
• Tama County, three older adults (61-80 years), three elderly (81 and older)
• Warren County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
• Washington County, one adult (18-40 years), one middle-aged adult (41-60 years), two older adults (61-80 years), one elderly (81\ and older)
• Woodbury County, one adult (18-40 years).
Gazette Des Moines bureau reporters Rod Boshart and James Q. Lynch contributed to this report.
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