Reynolds explains mandate rollback; warns against phone scams

By: 
Travis Fischer

Governor Kim Reynolds explained her decision to roll back public safety mandates during her weekly press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

The previous Friday, the governor abruptly rescinded many of the social distancing requirements that had been in place through most of the pandemic, along with the extended measures implemented during November’s spike. The governor did not say exactly what metrics were used to determine that it was time to roll back the public health mandates nor why the decision was made without a prior announcement, just that she believed they were no longer necessary.

“At that time, COVID-19 cases were surging, and our hospitals were pushed to the brink,” said Reynolds. “As I said from the beginning, they were never intended to be in place permanently.”

While the state is no longer requiring such measures as mask usage in public, limiting social gatherings, or mandating distance between parties, the governor is hopeful that businesses and individuals will continue to carry out such measures regardless.

“We know what we need to do, and it doesn’t require a government mandate to do it,” said Reynolds. “Prior to November, Iowa didn’t have a mask requirement, but most Iowans wore masks, and I am confident that they will continue to do so.”

Meanwhile, the state is continuing to move forward with establishing a centralized scheduling service for the COVID-19 vaccine. The state is working with Microsoft to develop a registration and scheduling system that will let Iowans know when they become eligible to receive the vaccine and connect them to their local provider.

“We understand that Iowans are eager to have a centralized access point like this, and that’s exactly what we’re working every day to achieve.”

The rollout of the vaccine is still getting smoothed out. Though many counties have been able to distribute the vaccine as quickly as they receive it, some have struggled to get through their weekly allotment due to winter related delays.

On the upside, the federal government has informed the state that they can expect a five percent increase in vaccine supply starting this week, bringing the state’s total allocation to 49,900 doses.

The State of Iowa administered 135,574 doses of vaccine in the last week, totaling 477,497 doses of vaccine to 458,365 residents. This includes a total of 276,704 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 200,793 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

An additional 32,252 individuals completed their vaccinations last week, bringing the total to 121,794.

As of Sunday, February 14, there have been 329,257 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, increasing the 324,589 total from the week prior by 4,668, continuing the steady decrease in new cases across the state.

In the last week, 4% of new cases have been among the elderly (age 80+), 17% among older adults (60-79); 28% among middle aged adults (40-59); 35% among young adults (18-39); and 18% among children.

With 302,160 considered recovered, that leaves roughly 21,861 Iowans currently known to be fighting the disease, consistent with drops from the previous week.

Hospitalizations have also stayed on the decline, with 242 patients hospitalized as of Sunday, down 76 from the week prior with 57 in an ICU.

“That’s the first time since September that hospitalizations have dropped below 300,” said Reynolds.

In testing, a total of 3,843,418 COVID-19 tests have now been performed on 1,514,682 individual Iowans since the pandemic began, including 2,598,972 PCR tests and 1,244,446 antigen tests. In the last week, the state has processed 49,244 PCR tests and 56,189 antigen tests.

In addition, 107,028 Iowans have undergone serology testing for coronavirus antibodies, which would indicate that they have had the virus. Of that number, 16,348, about 15%, have tested positive for antibodies.

Of the 2,936 individual tests in the last week, 1,144 of them (39%) have tested positive. This is, inexplicably, the second week in a row that exactly 1,144 new positive serology tests have been reported. The preceding week saw 1,249 new positive tests, and the week before that saw 1,839.

An additional 128 deaths were reported last week, bringing the statewide total to 5,236.

In total, approximately 3,114 elderly (59.47%); 1,775 older adults (33.9%), 301 middle aged adults (5.76%), 43 young adults (.82%), and at least one child (.04%) have died from the virus since the pandemic began.

In long term care facilities, 40 new deaths have been reported, bringing the total number of fatal cases to 2,132.

Still, the number of facilities reporting outbreaks is dropping with 35 now considered to be in outbreak status, down nine from the week prior. These facilities have 948 positive cases among residents and staff with 623 considered recovered.

On a final note, Reynolds also warned against a growing number of telephone scams preying on people who are waiting for vaccine information.

“If you receive an unsolicited phone call and are asked for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or credit card number, do not provide it,” said Reynolds. “Instead, ask the caller to identify themselves and call them back at their publicly listed number to make sure they are who they say they are.”

 

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