Trump’s COVID-19 task force calls on Iowans to avoid crowds

U.S. President Donald Trump leaves the White House for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on the South Lawn of the White House on Oct. 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

As President Trump was traveling to Iowa for a political rally in Des Moines, his own coronavirus task force was asking Iowans to avoid “crowds in public” and warning that it’s “critical” that Iowans step up their social distancing and use of face masks.

The report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force, dated Sunday, Oct. 11, and made public Wednesday, coincides with Iowa setting new records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and nursing home outbreaks.

“Community spread continues in both rural and urban areas of Iowa and it is critical that mitigation efforts increase to include mask wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and avoiding crowds in public and social gatherings in private to stop the increasing spread among residents,” the report states. “There continue to be severe outbreaks among nursing home residents and staff; common sense mitigation efforts can prevent transmission among the vulnerable populations.”

Among the report’s findings:

  • Iowa continues to be in the “red zone” for infections, indicating it had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population.
  • Iowa reported 199 new cases per 100,000 population in the last week, almost double the national average of 100 new cases per 100,000.
  • Iowa now has the 7th highest infection rate in the country.

President Trump’s 90-minute “Make America Great Again” rally is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Des Moines International Airport.

Ten new coronavirus deaths and 1,080 new infections were reported in Iowa Tuesday. Over the past seven days, the state has averaged 1,089 new COVID-19 infections per day, an increase of 16% from the average two weeks ago.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Iowa had reported 101,866 cases and 1,495 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the New York Times’ coronavirus tracker.

For the past seven days, Iowa has averaged 11 deaths per day, one of the highest weekly averages since June.

The number of COVID-19 outbreaks in Iowa nursing homes is also continuing to climb — up 69% in just four weeks.

On Sept. 15, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 36 outbreaks in Iowa nursing homes, with 873 infections associated with those outbreaks. On Wednesday, IDPH reported 61 active COVID-19 outbreaks in Iowa nursing homes and 1,419 infections associated with those outbreaks.

Currently, the homes dealing with the most infections associated with an active outbreak are the Hiawatha Care Center in Linn County, with 80 infections, and the Rose Vista Home in Harrison County, with 84 infections.

On Wednesday, the Iowa Department of Public Health revised downward Tuesday’s tally of current COVID-19 hospitalizations from 493 to 463. The agency reported the number of Iowans hospitalized with the virus on Wednesday as 473 — a record high according to the agency’s newly revised data.

The rolling 14-day total of hospitalized COVID-19 patients also reached a new high on Wednesday, at 5,940. The rolling 14-day total of new hospital admissions for COVID-19 also set a record, at 889.

IDPH reported that 106 of Iowa’s COVID-19 patients were in intensive care Wednesday — a slight decrease from the previous day’s total of 114.