Reynolds rolls back restrictions before Super Bowl Sunday

By: 
Travis Fischer

Governor Kim Reynolds has rolled back the bulk of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions and addressed some of the issues presented in the state’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

As of Sunday, February 7, the State of Iowa has administered 87,880 doses of vaccine in the last week, totaling 341,923 doses of vaccine to 325,421 residents. This includes a total of 200,191 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 141,732 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

A total of 89,542 Iowans have completed their vaccination.

While some counties are burning through their allotted amount of vaccine as soon as they receive it, others have been slower in their distribution. The extremely limited amount of supply compared to demand has also complicated efforts as newly eligible people struggle to get scheduled.

“We’re making progress, but I recognize that the vaccine process isn’t as fast or as easy as many of us would like it to be,” said Reynolds on Wednesday, February 3.

The governor addressed frustrations people have had in trying to arrange a vaccination, advising people contact their local public health department for information on when appointments will be available.

Keeping tabs on social media is often the fastest way to receive vaccination information, however this poses a challenge for less tech-savvy seniors. To assist Iowans over 65, the state is partnering with the Area Agency on Aging to answer questions, assist with scheduling, and arrange transportation for seniors that need extra help.

The state is also seeking a private entity to partner with on building a centralized system, similar to TestIowa, that can help people make their appointments.

“Ideally it will create a one-stop-shop where Iowans could provide their information and be matched with vaccine providers near them,” said Reynolds.

In spite of admittedly slow rollout of the vaccine and the arrival of new variants of the virus in the state, Reynolds announced on Friday that she would be abruptly lifting the bulk of the COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place throughout much of the pandemic, including the conditional mask requirements that were implemented in November.

Bars and restaurants are no longer mandated to enforce social distancing measures but are now merely encouraged to employ health and safety policies at their own discretion. Likewise, the limitations on public gatherings have been similarly deregulated, leaving it to event organizers to decide appropriate health and safety practices.

The announcement that Reynolds would be lifting the public health measures was not made during her Wednesday press conference, nor has she explained the rationale behind lifting them. The renewed emergency proclamation became effective on Sunday and will continue through March 7.

As of Sunday, there have been 324,589 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, increasing the 319,408 total from the week prior by 5,181 – yet another decrease in the number of new cases since the post-holiday bump subsided.

In the last week, 3% of new cases have been among the elderly (age 80+), 15% among older adults (60-79); 30% among middle aged adults (40-59); 35% among young adults (18-39); and 18% among children.

With 324,589 considered recovered, that leaves roughly 25,365 Iowans currently known to be fighting the disease, a significant drop in the number of active cases from a week ago.

Hospitalizations also continue to drop, with 318 patients hospitalized as of Sunday, down 50 from the week prior, with 69 in an ICU.

In testing, a total of 3,737,985 COVID-19 tests have now been performed on 1,494,926 individual Iowans since the pandemic began, including 2,549,728 PCR tests and 1,188,257 antigen tests. In the last week, the state has processed 52,313 PCR tests and 60,035 antigen tests.

In addition, 104,092 Iowans have undergone serology testing for coronavirus antibodies, which would indicate that they have had the virus. Of that number, 15,204, about 15%, have tested positive for antibodies.

This continues the growing rate of positive serology tests seen since December.

Of the 2,631 individuals tests in the last week, 1,144 of them (43%) have tested positive.

The state also crossed the 5,000 death milestone last week, with an additional 207 deaths bringing the statewide total to 5,108.

In total, approximately 3,045 elderly (59.63%); 1,726 older adults (33.79%), 290 middle aged adults (5.59%), 43 young adults (.85%), and at least one child (.04%) have died from the virus since the pandemic began.

In long term care facilities, 83 new deaths have been reported, bringing the total number of fatal cases to 2,092.

The number of facilities reporting outbreaks continues to drop, though, with 44 now considered to be in outbreak status, down 11 from the week prior. These facilities have 1,401 positive cases among residents and staff, with 913 considered recovered.

 

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