The state will delay until Wednesday the release of more information on the continued reopening of the state after the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus expired Friday, Gov. Kim Reynolds said today.
The state has also received 400 vials of the drug remdesivir to treat patients who are the most seriously ill from COVID-19, she said.
Reynolds had said Monday that she would release an update on the continued easing of restrictions today, but during today’s news conference, she announced that she was continuing to review information before announcing more changes.
“I’m still reviewing information with the Department of Public Health and my team today, and will be announcing the new changes tomorrow,” Reynolds said. “I know that Iowans and businesses are eager to know what’s next, but as I’ve said all along, these decisions must be made carefully and driven by data.”
Earlier this month, Reynolds eased restrictions in 77 of the state’s 99 counties, allowing some businesses, such as restaurants and fitness centers, to reopen at 50% capacity.
The delay comes as 539 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were announced, with 18 new deaths. That brings the total number of coronavirus cases in Iowa to 12,912, and 289 deaths.
Reynolds said 319 of the new cases involved Iowans who tested positive in Nebraska on April 28-30 who were linked to a meat processing plant. She said while the patients were notified shortly after being tested, the reporting of the results to Iowa was delayed.
Reynolds said the goal has always been to take action to protect the health of Iowans, slow the increase of cases and eventually decrease the number of COVID-19 cases in Iowa. She said she believes the state has been able to do that and begin to “safely and responsibly” open the state.
Since March, testing capacity has increased 800% at the state hygienic lab, and more than 3,800 tests are now being done daily, Reynolds said. There are seven test sites in Iowa, with an eighth opening Saturday in Storm Lake, she said.
The state has also been able to begin reopening without overwhelming its health care system, Reynolds said. She said there are 699 ventilators and 451 ICU beds available statewide.
Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, said Iowa received remdesivir as part of the FDA’s emergency use authorization. The drug had previously only been used in clinical trials and research.
Reisetter said the drug can be used in both adults and children. Patients who have low blood oxygen levels, those who need oxygen therapy, or those who are on a ventilator will receive six to 11 vials of the drug, which has been shown to reduce the severity of the virus and shorten recovery times.
“We are hopeful that remdesivir will be another helpful tool in managing the severity of COVID-19 for our most severely ill patients, and we look forward to more medical and public health developments as we continue to respond to this global pandemic,” Reisetter said.