Reynolds says she’s ‘somewhat optimistic’ about COVID-19 spread

By: - April 8, 2020 2:02 pm

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to the press during the daily coronavirus news conference on April 8, 2020, at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa. (Photo by Kelsey Kremer/Pool, The Des Moines Register)

A total of 122 Iowans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and 431 Iowans have now recovered from the virus, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday.

The number of patients who have already recovered is equal to 38% of all Iowans who have tested positive so far, Reynolds said, which gives her hope that Iowa’s mitigation efforts are working. The percentage of infected Iowans who are recognized as “recovered” is expected to increase over time as the number of recoveries outpaces the number of new infections.

Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 97 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, along with one additional death involving an elderly Linn County resident. That brings the total number of positive cases in Iowa to 1,145, and the total number of deaths to 27.

Reynolds said her office is tracking the number of hospital beds and ventilators in the state, along with their utilization. Asked if she was comfortable with the resources that Iowa has to address an expected surge in COVID-19 cases, she said, “We are always preparing for the worst but I am somewhat optimistic. We still haven’t peaked yet. We anticipate that at the end of this month. But again, only 10 percent (of positive cases) are hospitalized right now, so that’s a fairly good number.

“And I think the number that gives us a lot of hope is that 38 percent all positive cases have recovered. And so what we have seen over the last seven to nine days is the number of positive cases have been pretty stagnant so they’ve stayed pretty much the same over the seven to nine days and that has really been our goal.”

 

Reynolds responds to ruling citing training school ‘torture’

On March 30, a federal judge found that the Iowa Department of Human Services had “tortured” children its care at the Boys State Training School in Eldora and ordered a wide range of reforms. Since then, Disability Rights Iowa and others have questioned the state’s efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in the Eldora home and in other state-funded facilities where residents now live in close quarters.

Reynolds was asked Wednesday about the judge’s findings and the steps being taken to test and protect the Eldora youth from the virus. The governor said she wasn’t sure about testing at the Eldora home but called the abuses there “unconscionable.”

She said her office is working with the attorney general to figure out how to proceed and she thanked the director of the Iowa Department of Human Services, Kelly Garcia, for unspecified “steps she has already taken and will continue to take to make sure we get the situation resolved at the home.” Reynolds said Garcia is on the grounds of the Eldora home and is “working with the staff and working with the attorney general and legal team as to what we do moving forward.”

State receives thousands of business aid applications

Reynolds said that as part of the state’s small business relief program, the Iowa Department or Revenue has fielded 5,700 applications for tax deferrals and expects to approve 2,300 of them this week. The tax deferrals give small businesses an additional 60 days make tax payments without any late fees or penalties.

Reynolds also announced that the Iowa Economic Development Authority has received almost 14,000 applications for its $4 million grant assistance program. The applications represent $148 million in requested financial aid.

The governor said she is now expanding the grant program from $4 million to $24 million.

“I’m pleased to announce the first round of funding will assist more than 500 restaurants, bars and breweries that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Reynolds said. “These businesses were among the first to close their normal operations and it is our goal to get them back up and running as soon as possible.”

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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.

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