Iowa reported its biggest one-day increase in COVID-19 cases yet on Friday, with 521. Eleven people died, also the largest one-day number, increasing the state total to 107.
Meanwhile, new outbreak centers are appearing in places like Sioux City, which locally reported its largest jump yet of 129, bringing the total for Woodbury County to 287.
However, Gov. Kim Reynolds’ press conference today focused largely on how Iowa can begin reopening, announcing the state will soon allow elective surgeries and farmers’ markets. The order, she said, will be rolled out on Monday and take effect on May 1.
With programs like Test Iowa to expand testing, Reynolds said she was confident that the state will be able to track and target new hotspots as they pop up.
“[Test Iowa] really will allow us to target our responses and really identify where some of the clusters and the hotspots are,” she said during her morning press conference. “We have actively been going into areas that we know, because they’re kind of mass gatherings or there’s close proximity of the workforce.”
But regions of the state continue to have outbreaks, and Sarah Reisetter, the deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, said Iowa will not yet hit its peak for another two or three weeks as widespread testing continues. In early April, state officials predicted the peak would occur within two or three weeks, or mid- to late-April.
Woodbury County in Western Iowa saw 212 new cases from Monday to today, and the New York Times reports that the Sioux City metro, which spans three states, has the highest average daily growth rate of cases, 101 percent, or cases doubling every day.
Today, Reynolds also announced another new outbreak at a long-term care facility in the state, making a total of 13 in the state. As of early this afternoon, Black Hawk County has 717 reported cases, where a major outbreak at the Tyson meat packing plant quickly spiked cases in the county. State numbers are often behind local health department reporting, but the new numbers may soon cause Black Hawk County to surge to the top of Iowa’s county lists; Polk County currently has the most with 575 as of the the IDPH’s reporting today.
Still, Reynolds is pushing for the state to reopen, starting with crowded events like farmers’ markets. She said vendors will be responsible for ensuring crowds don’t develop in front of their stands and police will be there to educate and disperse, but ticketing will be a last resort.
Reynolds explained these are the first steps to return to normal life in Iowa.
“With the data that we’ll be looking at, the areas that pertain to that, we’re going to look at ways to start open up. And it’s time,” Reynolds said.
by Nikoel Hytrek
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