The Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed one additional case of COVID-19 in Dallas County and the State Hygienic Lab has added an additional shift to expand testing capabilities, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced at a news conference Monday afternoon. The additional shift means the lab will be capable of running 108 tests per day instead of 54 per day, and the lab is ready to add a third shift if necessary, Reynolds said.
National laboratories are also running COVID-19 diagnostics tests for the state of Iowa and are required to report positive results to the State Hygienic Lab, but the state will not know how many negative cases national labs tested that come from Iowa, Reynolds added. The state lab is able to report a test’s results within 24 hours, but the national labs are taking longer to report results — the goals for those laboratories are to report results in 48 hours, which is not yet occuring.
Also announced Monday:
- The state of Iowa has received a USDA waiver to allow schools to continue providing meals to families despite district-announced closures. Districts may now organize drive-through meal pickup stations or grab-and-go stations to feed students. Information on those initiatives will come from school districts. The governor also announced intent to sign legislation that would waive a state requirement for schools to fulfill a certain number of school days in the academic year.
- The Department of Human Services is working with existing child care providers and school district superintendents to provide alternative sites for child care for essential workers who can’t afford to be away from work. “Grandparents are not a good option right now,” noted agency director Kelly Garcia.
- Reynolds and state agencies continue to evaluate best practices around COVID-19 but are not ordering businesses, restaurants and bars to close at this time, a step taken by several other of the nation’s governors. But, she added during Monday afternoon’s news conference, “we are reassessing it daily.” “You can address this without me ordering businesses to close. Practice social distancing,” Reynolds said.
- State agencies are contacting health care equipment vendors to ask if the state can place orders for medical equipment, and the state is also contacting the Strategic National Stockpile about potential orders.
- The Department of Human Services has moved 500 employees to work from home, and by the end of the week expects 2,500 employees to work from home. Other state agencies are assessing abilities to work remotely.