Iowa sees continued shortages of protective equipment for health workers

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference at the State Emergency Operations Center, Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Johnston, Iowa. (Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP pool)

Obtaining enough medical protective equipment will continue to be a challenge for Iowa, particularly now that the federal stockpile is nearly depleted, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday.

Reynolds said while the state is continuing to receive protective gear like masks and gowns, the fulfillment of some requests has been delayed due to the high demand for equipment to protect medical workers.

The state made 353 deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE) across 99 counties on Thursday, Reynolds said at a news conference.

In a document released by the U.S. House Oversight Committee, in total, Iowa has received 119,062 N95 masks, 283,134 surgical masks, 57,794 face shields, 47,365 surgical gowns, 1,875 coveralls and 261,442 gloves from the federal government. The last shipment date was estimated for April 1.

“The PPE is going to continue to be an issue, so for right now, we’re monitoring very carefully,” Reynolds said.

Governors across the country are complaining they’re in bidding competitions with other state and federal agencies to obtain needed medical equipment, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. In response, the federal government created a task force under FEMA to try and centralize and prioritize medical equipment to high-priority areas in the country, according to PolitiFact.

Reynolds said Iowa is also putting out contracts for PPE, but did not say whether the state has been outbid for equipment. She thanked local businesses and individuals for making protective equipment for medical workers and encouraged people to continue sewing face masks.

“We’re just short supply. It’s a reality we’re dealing with,” Reynolds said. “We’re all doing everything we can in every single state across the country to make sure we can take care of the people at the frontlines of all of this.”

IDPH: Iowa is ‘flattening the curve’

Mitigation efforts to “flatten the curve,” a phrase used to describe a reduction in the rate of new COVID-19 cases, is starting to happen in Iowa, said Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.

In a follow-up after the press conference, Amy McCoy, spokesperson for IDPH, said COVID-19 testing results are showing the same amount of positive cases per day. McCoy said this means the curve is beginning to look flat, rather than progress upward.

There is no precise way to predict when Iowa will experience its peak of confirmed COVID-19 cases, until after the state experiences it, McCoy said. Ideally, there won’t be a peak and instead, cases will plateau instead.

On Thursday, the department reported 125 additional positive cases of COVID-19 for a total of 1,270 cases. Two more people with COVID-19 have died for a total of 29 deaths; 115 people with COVID-19 were in hospitals.

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