Reynolds declines to say whether she’ll share COVID-19 data

By: - April 1, 2020 4:36 pm

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds gives an update on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, April 1, 2020. (Photo by Zach Boyden-Holmes/Pool, The Register

Gov. Kim Reynolds declined to say Wednesday whether she will disclose the data and metrics she’s relying to make decisions on how to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa.

At her daily press conference, Reynolds was twice asked whether she’d be willing to share the numbers she says she is looking at each day to guide her decision-making on such issues as a shelter-in-place order, which she has yet to give. She also deflected a question about the potential number of deaths in Iowa, suggesting projections relied upon by others are based on flawed data.

At each of her daily press conferences, Reynolds has repeatedly assured the public that her decisions on business and school closings and a potential stay-at-home order have been driven by data and metrics that she reviews twice each day.

When asked whether “there is any way for you to share more about the data,” Reynolds reiterated that she is relying on data and advised Iowans to continue to wash their hands and practice social distancing.

“We will continue to make the decisions based on the data that we have just like I have indicated every single day — and that could change tomorrow depending on what the data drives,” she added.

When asked “when will the public see that data,” Reynolds said the numbers she is looking at include the percentage of Iowans over 65, the percentage of infected Iowans requiring hospitalization, the number of outbreaks in long-term care, and the rate of infection within the previous 14 days.

“So those are some of the metrics we’re looking at,” she said. “There are other assumptions that are going into it, as well, but those are some of the metrics we’re looking at to determine what is the best method and what’s the best decisions going forward.”

One reporter noted that President Trump is projecting as many as 240,000 deaths nationally, and asked Reynolds what her projections are with regard to the potential number of deaths in Iowa.

Reynolds responded, “The modeling is only as good as the … assumptions that go into it. “And so, you know, I had referenced a website the other day that the administration was looking at when they were trying to put the modeling together, but it didn’t take into account a lot of the mitigation efforts we have put in place.”

Reynolds acknowledged there are no contingency plans in place to deal with a wave of people from neighboring states who might come to Iowa if their health care systems are overwhelmed.

“There is a great deal of communication already taking place between governors,” she said. “So there’s a lot of conversations going on every week — multiple times each week, actually.”

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.