As the coronavirus pandemic reshapes Iowa life and politics, we at Starting Line have decided to create a timeline tracker of how the crisis is playing out in our state. It will include updates on new confirmed cases, how state government is reacting and planning, what major Iowa politicians are saying about the pandemic, and more.
This timeline will be in reverse order, with the most recent days at top. We’ll try to update it as much as possible as new information becomes available.
This page will be pinned to our website’s main menu.
The Iowa Department of Public Health began putting out a map of impacted counties. We’ve started taking screenshots of those for each day, starting on March 22.
Tuesday, May 26
Total Cases: 17,661
The state of Iowa’s website was undergoing maintenance over the weekend, so we did not update case counts during that time. In those three days, there were an additional 1,253 new cases and 52 new deaths, bringing the state death total to 471.
The Governor announced today that starting June 1, casinos, amusement parks, pool halls, outdoor performance venues can reopen at 50% capacity following public health guidance. Bars, wineries, distilleries can reopen Thursday, May 28. She also announced that the moratorium on foreclosures and debt collection would end tomorrow at 11:59 PM.
The state also confirmed that additional coronavirus outbreaks have been identified at Perdue Farms facilities in Sioux City & Sioux Center.
Friday, May 22
Total Cases: 16,408
There were an additional 454 COVID-19 cases in Iowa in the last 24 hours, bringing the state total to 16,408. There were also 16 new deaths, bringing the state total to 419.
The Governor also announced yesterday that anyone in the state who wants a test can get one, opening up the TestIowa system to more Iowans.
Iowa Workforce Development announced today that Iowa’s unemployment rate in April of this year was 10.2%, compared to a jobless rate of 2.7% one year ago. This was largely due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
Thursday, May 21
Total Cases: 15,954
There were 421 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the state total t0 15,954. The death toll surpassed 400 today, moving to 403. This is an increase of 20 from the same time yesterday.
Note: The Governor’s website will be undergoing maintenance this weekend, so case counts may not be updated here on those days.
Wednesday, May 20
Total Cases: 15,533
There were 237 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the state total t0 15,533. The death toll also increased to 383, an increase of 13 from yesterday.
The Governor also announced today that effective Friday, movie theaters, aquariums, museums and wedding reception venues in Iowa can reopen with “appropriate measures in place.” Pools can reopen for swimming laps, swim lessons. Next Thursday, May 28, bars can re-open in indoor and outdoor spaces at 50% capacity. Also on June 1, schools can resume school activities with appropriate public health precautions.
Tuesday, May 19
Total Cases: 15,296
There are currently 15,296 cases of coronavirus in the state of Iowa, an increase of 341 from yesterday. There were also12 new deaths reported, bringing the state total to 367.
Note: Governor Reynolds announced changes to the state coronavirus website, including live updates of cases throughout the day. Iowa Starting Line will be updating our numbers daily at 11:00AM.
Monday, May 18
Total Cases: 14,955
There were 4 new deaths reported in Iowa today, with 304 new confirmed cases. This brings the Iowa totals to 355 deaths and 14,955 cases total in the state.
A report from the AP released today showed that Iowa OSHA refused to investigate the Tyson Foods Plant in Perry after getting a complaint on April 15 that COVID-19 was spreading. That plant later reported that 730 workers tested positive for the coronavirus.
Sunday, May 17
Total Cases: 14,651
There were 323 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state today, bringing the total number of cases to 14,651. There were also 5 new deaths due to the disease, bringing the state total to 351.
Saturday, May 16
Total Cases: 14,328
There were 279 new reported cases of COVID-19 in Iowa today, bringing the state total to 14,328. There were also 346 total deaths, an increase of 10 from yesterday.
Friday, May 15
Total Cases: 14,049
There are a total of 14,049 cases of COVID-19 in Iowa, an increase of 374 from yesterday. There were also 18 new deaths reported today, bringing the total deaths to 336. Governor Reynolds announced that 16 of those 18 deaths are individuals in long term care facilities.
Thursday, May 14
Total Cases: 13,675
There were a total of 13,675 cases of COVID-19 in Iowa, an increase of 386 from yesterday. There were also 12 new deaths reported, bringing the statewide total to 318. The Governor also announced that the State Hygienic Lab validated the Test Iowa machines. There was a 95% positivity accuracy and 99% negative accuracy. Reynolds announced that there will be a dedicated Test Iowa Hotline for individuals with questions or issues about their tests.
The Govenor also provided updated statistics on coronavirus outbreaks in long term care facilities. 57% of deaths in the state have come from long term care facilities, and 35 of the 444 such facilities in the state have had an outbreak.
Wednesday, May 13
Total Cases: 13,289
There were an additional 377 cases of COVID-19 reported in Iowa today, bringing the state total past 13,000 to 13,289. There were also 306 total deaths reported today, an increase of 17 from yesterday. With the 18 new cases yesterday, this makes May 12 and 13 the highest two day death total in the state.
The Governor announced the reopening of businesses in all 99 counties, including restaurants, health clubs, and spas. These businesses are allowed to reopen with some capacity constraints, additional health measures, and guidance from the Department of Health. The reopening does not include bars, casinos, and movie theatres.
Tuesday, May 12
Total Cases: 12, 912
There was an increase of 539 new COVID-19 cases in Iowa today, bringing the total cases to 12,912. There were 18 more deaths from the virus, bringing the state total to 289.
The Governor was set to announce a relaxation on some restriction on restaurants today, but she announced at her press conference today that those changes would becoming tomorrow
Monday, May 11
Total Cases: 12,353
There are an additional 414 COVID-19 cases in Iowa today, bringing the state total to 12,373. There were 6 additional deaths reported today, bringing the state total to 271.
Governor Kim Reynolds will follow a “modified quarantine plan” after her trip to the White House last week, and she is held her daily press conference today by dial-in only.
A Des Moines Register article that came out this weekend reported that the Governor’s Test Iowa system is posing accessibility issues for immigrants and the elderly.
Sunday May 10
Total Cases: 11,959
Iowa reported a total of 11,959 cases today, an increase of 287 cases from Saturday. There were also an additional 13 deaths bringing the state total to 265.
Saturday, May 9
Total Cases: 11,672
There were 11,672 cases of COVID-19 reported on Saturday, an increase of 215 from Friday. There were also 9 new deaths reported, bringing the state total to 252.
Mike Pence visited Iowa yesterday and praised Governor Reynolds for how she has handled the crisis, and encouraged religious leaders to open churches safely.
Friday, May 8
Total Cases: 11,457
There were 11,457 confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases reported on May 8, an increase of 398 cases from the day before. There were also 12 deaths reported, bringing the total number to 243. At 5AM this morning, the Governor allowed certain businesses such as campgrounds, spas, gyms, and malls to reopen with some restrictions across the state.
There have been multiple reports about failures in the Governor’s “Test Iowa” system. As the Des Moines Register reported, some of the tests were potentially damaged and some people did not get their results for over 2 weeks.
Thursday, May 7
Total Cases: 11,059
The state reported a total of 11,059 cases today, but the Governor changed the time period from which cases were reported. The new reporting time is up to 11:59 the night before, which eliminates the lag time that was present before. There were also a confirmed total of 231 deaths in the state due to the coronavirus.
The Governor also clarified a proclamation that would allow previously closed sectors of the economy to reopen. Dentist offices, campgrounds, spa, and gyms are allowed to open with limited capacity, and malls and stores are permitted to reopen with certain restrictions in place. This order includes the 22 counties that were not allowed to reopen last week due to higher spread of the virus.
The Governor also announced that following her trip to the White House yesterday, Iowa State Public Health Medical Director and Epidemiologist, Dr. Caitlin Pedati was asked to join the national coronavirus taskforce by President Donald Trump.
Wednesday, May 6
Total Iowa Cases: 10,404
293 new positive COVID-19 cases in Iowa were confirmed on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 10,404. The state also reported that there were 12 new deaths, bringing the death total to 219. The have be 52,767 negative tests to date, and roughly one in every fifty Iowans have been tested.
Governor Reynolds is traveling to Washington D.C. to meet with President Trump and the Coronavirus Taskforce.
Tuesday, May 5
Total Iowa Cases: 10,111
There were 408 new cases in Iowa today, bringing the state total past 10,000 confirmed cases to 10,111. Iowa now has more cases than all of its neighbors other than Illinois. 80% of the reported cases were in the 22 counties that have higher restrictions that continue to be recommended by the Governor Reynolds. In addition, 261 of the 408 confirmed cases today were from only two counties, Polk and Woodbury.
The state also reported an additional 19 deaths today, bringing the total deaths to 207 in the state. 56% of these deaths have come from long term care facilities.
The governor also released the workplaces with outbreaks of COVID-19. Those places of business and their numbers are below:
- Columbus Junction, Tyson: 221 cases, 26% of workers
- Tama, National Beef: 258, 39%
- Waterloo, Tyson: 444, 17%
- Perry, Tyson: 730, 58%
- Newton, TPI: 131, 13%
Monday, May 4
Total Iowa cases: 9,703
Governor Reynolds announced 534 new cases on Monday, bringing the total in the state to 9,703. The governor also announced that there were 4 additional deaths, bringing the total to 188. There were no new counties with reported cases, and Governor Reynolds noted that 85% of the new cases were in the 22 counties that did not have restrictions lifted starting on May 1. There was also a new outbreak at a long term care facility in Marshall county.
Governor Reynolds also reported that there was a backlog processing tests, and the large increase in positive cases over the weekend was due to finally reporting the results of those tests. There are currently 47,458 completed tests in the state, which is roughly 1 in every 55 Iowans.
There was also the first reported case of COVID-19 at a state run facility for people with disabilities. As the Des Moines Register confirmed, six people at the Woodward Resource Center tested positive for COVID-19, and five of those people did not show symptoms.
Sunday, May 3
Total Iowa cases: 9,169
Deaths increased again by nine to bring the total to 184. Five of the people who died were elderly adults (81+) . Black Hawk County reported two, Bremer County reported one and Poweshiek County reported two. Four people were older adults (61-80). Dallas County reported one, Dubuque County reported one and Polk County reported two.
There are now 27 reported outbreaks at long-term care facilities in the state, meaning at least three residents testing positive. All of the facilities are in Central or Eastern Iowa, with no outbreaks farther west than Dallas County.
The Iowa Department of Public Health shows Polk County again having the most cases of COVID-19 with 1,476, according to data from 10 a.m. yesterday. Black Hawk County’s health department reported 1,507 cases yesterday at 10 a.m. Siouxand District Health put out numbers today for Woodbury County, putting its case count at 1,158.
As of yesterday, Iowa has done 53,186 tests.
Saturday, May 2
Total Iowa cases: 8,641
All five of the new deaths were among older adults (61-80) between Thursday and Friday. Linn County reported two, Polk County reported one, Tama County reported one and Woodbury County reported one. The total number of deaths is now 175.
After a full week of increased testing, the state reported its biggest jump in case numbers yet. In recent days, the number of counties reporting cases has also increased. Now, 90 of Iowa’s 99 counties have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.
Friday, May 1
Total Iowa cases: 7,884
Today the state reported eight more deaths for a total of 170. Four of the people who died were elderly adults (81+). One in Bremer County, one in Muscatine County and two in Polk County. Three people were middle aged adults (41-60), two in Linn County and one in Scott County. One other person in Muscatine County died, an older adult (61-80).
Today, three counties have over 1,000 cases. Those are Black Hawk County with 1,381 cases reported yesterday by the Black Hawk Department of Health, Polk County with 1,176 cases reported yesterday by the Iowa Department of Public Health and Woodbury County with 1,034 cases today, reported by Siouxland District Health.
Thursday, April 30
Total Iowa cases: 7,145
There are now 162 total deaths, 14 more reported than yesterday. Half of those were elderly adults (81+), with three in Polk County, three in Muscatine County and one in Scott County. Five were older adults (61-80), with three in Linn County and two in Muscatine County. Two of the deaths were middle aged adults (41-60), one in Dubuque County and one in Marshall County.
There has also been another confirmed outbreak at a long-term care facility, bringing the state’s total to 24.
Tomorrow, businesses like restaurants, gyms and stores in 77 counties will reopen. These counties were chosen because of the limited coronavirus spread there. The 22 counties where cases are still widespread and growing fast will remain restricted.
Wednesday, April 29
Total Iowa cases: 6,843
Today the state is also reporting 12 more deaths for 148 total. The majority of those who died were eldery adults (81+). Three others were older adults (61-80), one was middle-aged (41-60) and one was an adult (21-40).
Tuesday, April 28
Total Iowa cases: 6,376
Gov. Kim Reynolds said 2 percent of the new cases happened in the 77 counties that will begin reopening on Friday, May 1.
The state reported nine additional deaths for a total of 136. Seven of those Iowans were residents of long-term care facilities.
Iowa recorded 23 outbreaks at long-term care facilities today, seven more than yesterday. These facilities have long been the source of the majority of the state’s deaths.
Woodbury County now has the third most cases in the state, behind Black Hawk and Polk Counties. Linn County is now in fourth and Johnson County is fifth.
Reynolds said Test Iowa sites are increasing across the state. She said one of those will be at Crossroads Mall in Waterloo and more will go out to long-term care facilities. This weekend or early next week, Reynolds said a testing site will go out to Woodbury County.
Monday, April 27
Total Iowa cases: 5,868
With nine new deaths, 127 total Iowans have died from COVID-19. Three (81+) died in Polk County, two (61-80) died in Black Hawk County, one (81+) died in Bremer County, one (61-80) died in Dubuque County, one (81+) in Poweshiek County and one (81+) in Washington County.
Woodbury County now has the fourth-most cases in the state, behind Linn in third, Polk in second and Black Hawk in first.
At her morning press conference today Gov. Kim Reynolds detailed the phased approach she’s taking to reopen Iowa’s economy. She said it will start on May 1, with 77 counties where virus spread has gone down over the past two weeks. Still, people and businesses are encouraged to practice social distancing and businesses that reopen are required to operate at 50 percent capacity. Those businesses include restaurants, closed malls, retail stores and fitness centers.
Other closures are extended to May 15.
There are no travel restrcitions on people from the 22 counties where outbreaks have surged or simply failed to decline to the reopened counties.
Sunday, April 26
Total Iowa cases: 5,476
Amount increased: 384
Today the state is reporting six more deaths for a total of 118. Black Hawk County reported one middle-aged adult (41-60), Clinton County reported one elderly adult (81+), Des Moines County reported one middle-aged adult, Johnson County reported one adult (21-40) and one elderly adult, Linn County reported one elderly adult.
Now, the state is reporting outbreaks at 16 long-term care facilities in Iowa.
A report released late last week found cases of COVID-19 are growing faster in Iowa than anywhere else in the country.
Saturday, April 25
Total Iowa cases: 5,092
Amount increased: 647
The state also reported five more deaths for a total of 112. Two in Polk County, one older adult (61-80) and one elderly (81+). One middle-aged adult (41-60) in Black Hawk County, one middle-aged adult in Johnson County and one elderly adult in Scott County.
Woodbury County, the state’s latest site for rapidly increasing cases, reported 396 total cases, an increase of more than 100 from yesterday. It now has the sixth most cases in the state.
Black Hawk County officially overtook Polk for the most cases yesterday with 691 cases to Polk County’s 660. As of 1 p.m. today, Black Hawk is now reporting 784 cases. Data available for Polk County is still a day behind.
Linn, Johnson and Marshall Counties rank third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Friday, April 24
Total Iowa cases: 4,445
Iowa cases jumped again, this time by 521, which makes it the largest single-day increase Iowa has had. The number of deaths now stands at 107, an increase of 11.
Four deaths were in Linn County, two were elderly (81+), two were older (61-80). Three were in Black Hawk County, one middle-aged adult (41-60) and two older adults. Two elderly adults died in Polk County. One elderly adult died in Bremer County and one older adult died in Scott County.
Another outbreak at a long-term care facility was also announced for a total of 13, this time at Mitchell Village Care Center in Mitchelville.
The RMCC updated again, too. Region Six has gone back down to a 9, according to the state’s metrics. Last week, it hit a 10 which led to Gov. Kim Reynolds ordering stricter social restrictions in the region.
At her morning press conference, Reynolds announced she’ll be signing a declaration to reopen the state on Monday. The reopening starts with elective surgeries and farmers’ markets.
Today, Sioux City was listed as the city with the highest average daily growth rate of coronavirus cases in the country, with a 101 percent daily growth rate.
Thursday, April 23
Total Iowa cases: 3,924
Today, the number of positive cases in Iowa increased by 176. The death toll increased by six for a total of 96. Four of the deaths were in Polk County, with one middle aged adult (41-60) and three elderly adults (81+). The other two people were elderly and died in Bremer and Muscatine Counties.
Polk County has the highest number of cases with 486, followed closely by Linn County with 479. Black Hawk County is in third with 420 cases.
There’s also been one new outbreak detected at a long-term care facility, Manor Care Health Services in Linn County for a total of 12 long-term care facility outbreaks.
Wednesday, April 22
Total Iowa cases: 3,748
Today’s number of cases increased by 107, while the number of deaths increased by seven, to a total of 90. Two were older adults (61-80) in Black Hawk County, one a middle aged adult (41-60) in Linn County. Muscatine County reported two, a middle-aged adult and an older adult, Tama County had one middle aged adult and Woodbury County reported one older adult.
The state also reported a new outbreak at a long-term care facility for a total of 11 in the state. The new outbreak is at St. Francis Manor in Poweshiek County.
Yesterday, the state launched Test Iowa and Gov. Kim Reynolds said today that in the first 24 hours, more than 80,000 Iowans took the assessment and more than 250 scheduled appointments to get tested. She reminded people that they can take the assessment more than once, so if someone tests negative but develops symptoms later they can re-take the assessment to see if they qualify for testing.
Tuesday, April 21
The number of cases in Iowa has jumped again, this time by 482 cases, the largest single-day increase yet. The number of deaths also rose to 83, marking four more. Three were in Polk County (one older adult and two elderly) and Linn County (one elderly adult). All four were related to long-term care facility outbreaks.
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced two new counties today, Cherokee and Humboldt, bringing the total affected to 84.
The county hardest hit by new cases was Black Hawk, with 107 new cases. It’s now reporting 366. Johnson County is close behind with 69 new cases and a total of 380.
Today, the governor announced the launch of Test Iowa, a program intended to increase testing capacity to 3,000 a day on top of the existing capacity. The first step of the program is for Iowans to fill out an online assessment at testiowa.com to determine whether they should be tested.
The assessments will also provide the Iowa Department of Health with information about where hotspots are in the state. Eventually, that information will be used to determine how the state can reopen economically, Reynolds said.
The second step is to get tested, if recommended. Through the program, Iowans will be able to schedule a test at a drive-through location. The first one will open this Saturday at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines. Another site is being set up at a long-term care facility in Tama.
The third part of the program is to track the virus by asking Iowans where they’ve been and who they’ve been in contact with.
Right now, the tests will still be prioritized for high-risk employees like health care workers, long-term care facility employees and those who work in manufacturing or meat processing. After that, highly symptomatic people will be tested. Reynolds said eventually testing will expand to asymptomatic people.
Reynolds said supply in Iowa has increased over time, but not enough to expand testing. This program looks to change that.
“This is a pivot from what we’ve been able to do,” Reynolds said.
Monday, April 20
Total Iowa cases: 3,159
The number of coronavirus cases in Iowa increased again, this time by 257. The state is also reporting four new deaths, a middle-aged adult in Black Hawk County, a middle aged adult in Mahaska County, and a middle-aged adult and an elderly adult in Linn County, bringing the total number of deaths to 79.
Of the new cases, 67 were reported in Black Hawk County and 54 from Polk County. Those two make up most of the increase.
Still, no region has gotten a worse rating according to the state’s metrics for the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in that area. Regions Two and Three were downgraded to 6 and 4 respectively.
Gov. Kim Reynolds confirmed that 261 of the 389 cases reported yesterday are from the state’s meatpacking plants in Eastern Iowa.
At this time, Reynolds said she will not order plants to close, despite their place in Iowa’s coronavirus outbreak, because they’re essential to the food supply and to Iowa farmers raising livestock, especially hogs.
Sunday, April 19
Total Iowa Cases: 2,902
In addition to reporting 389 new cases, the state reported one new death, an older adult in Muscatine County, for a total of 75. This jump from Friday to Saturday is now the biggest single-day increase in cases in the state.
The RMCC dashboard also updated to show Region One back at a 9.
The others regions now rank:
- Region Two: 7
- Region Three: 5
- Region Four: 6
- Region Five: 9
- Region Six: 10
Some of the most notable increases were in:
- Marshall County, which reported 72 new cases for 155 total
- Tama, with 65 new and 188 total
- Linn, with 65 new and 397 total
- Polk, with 40 new and 333 total
- Louisa, with 36 new and 213 total
- Muscatine, with 31 new and 207 total
- Johnson, with 29 new and 294 total
- Black Hawk, with 26 new and 192 total
The total number of people recovering has also increased. The IDPH reported 1,171 cases recovered.
Saturday, April 18
Total Iowa Cases: 2,513
The state is also reporting 74 total deaths, 10 more from yesterday. Another outbreak at a long-term care facility has also been detected, meaning three or more residents tested positive, bringing the total to 10 in the state. The facility is Bishop Drumm Retirement Center in Polk County.
Rapid-test machines, which produce results in under 10 minutes, have been deployed in rural communities throughout the state. The Abbott machines can be found in Algona, Marshalltown, Boone, Independence, Manchester, Mt. Ayr, Osceola, Red Oak, Spencer, Storm Lake, Washington and Waukon.
Though they produce rapid results, the machines have limited capacity. The locations were decided based on the number of long-term care facilities in an area.
Friday, April 17
With 191 new cases this is the now biggest single-day jump in Iowa. Previously the worst day was earlier this week with a 189-case increase.
Iowa has also seen four more deaths for a total of 64. Meanwhile, 1,007 people have recovered.
The RMCC rankings have also changed. Region Six remains a 10, Region Five is still a 9, but Region One has moved down to an 8.
Today, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Iowa schools will stay closed for the rest of the school year, including spring sports.
“Believe me, I would like nothing more than to stand before you today and announce that Iowa will be open for school in May,” Reynolds said. The decision is based on data provided by the Iowa Department of Health.
While schools aren’t reopening, school districts will continue to provide continuous learning opportunities until the end of the school year.
Thursday, April 16
Thursday marks the second-biggest jump in reported cases in a single day with 146 more cases.
Region Six, Northeast Iowa, was upgraded to a 10.
“Effective at 11:59 p.m. tonight, in all Region Six counties, all gatherings for social, community, recreational, leisure or sporting activities will cease through April 30. You may gather only with members of your immediate household,” Reynolds said.
Regions Five and One have been upgraded to 9.
The governor also announced two new long-term care outbreaks in Linn Manor Care Center in Marion and Lutheran Living Senior Campus in Muscatine.
Reynolds also said the state will continue monitoring meat packing plants in the state, including those like the one in Waterloo reporting new outbreaks.
Wednesday, April 15
Along with that case increase, the state reported four more deaths for a total of 53. Those deaths were in Polk (81+), Clayton (81+), Allamakee (61-80) and Johnson (61-80) Counties.
An additional 500 people have been tested to bring the total to 19,869. The state reports 908 people have recovered.
In her daily press conference, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced another long-term care facility outbreak at Wilton Reitrement Community in Wilton, which is in Muscatine County. Six cases have been reported at the facility. Muscatine County has 133 total cases and has reported two deaths.
In Iowa, 49 percent of deaths because of the coronavirus are related to outbreaks at long-term care facilities. The state is sending more tests to Wilton Retirement Community, Reynolds said.
Reynolds also annouced 900 additional tests will be sent today to the Tyson meat plant in Louisa county, the site of one of the most extreme outbreaks in the state. Reynolds also said she’ll talk to meat-packing plants today to get a sense of how the plants are managing their employees.
Iowa’s Region 5, which encompasses Southeast Iowa, is now ranked an 8 according to the state’s metrics for whether an area will be ordered to shelter in place. The threshold for that is a ranking of 10 or more. Region 6 is now ranked as a 9.
Tuesday, April 14
Total Iowa Cases: 1,899
With an 189-case increase, today marks the largest jump in new cases in Iowa.
Iowa also has six new deaths for a total of 49.
In the state, 19,366 people have been tested and 790 people have recovered.
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced three new outbreaks at long-term care facilities in the state, despite restrictions on visitors.
“As we detect clustsers or outbreaks of illness, we’re seeing things are in line with our early understanding of this virus,” said State Medical Director and Epidemiologist Caitlin Pedati. “It does seem to move efficiently among people who are in close contact and who live together. So again I think we’re seeing a reflection of people who live in congregate settings.”
Spread is even more prevalent when it comes to health care and people who may have underlying conditions, she said.
Of the new cases, 86 are attributable to the Tyson meat packing plant in Louisa County, Reynolds said today.
The IDPH updated the type and amount of data available on its website. With the updated website comes a new map, but also more data like the curve of the virus in Iowa, lab testing, the RMCC dashboard and the assesment for each region.
There seem to be technical problems with the website which delayed the governor’s press conference by about 45 minutes.
Monday, April 13
Total Iowa Cases: 1,710
New Counties: Cass, which brings the total number of counties to 82.
The governor announced two new deaths today in Linn (81+) and Muscatine (61-80) Counties. This brings the state’s total to 43.
According to Reynolds, long-term care facilities continue to be a big concern because they make up more than 10 percent of positive cases and 53 percent of deaths in the state.
Along with the rising number of cases and the new deaths, Reynolds said the number of recovered patients has also increased. The number is now at 741, for a recovery rate of 43 percent. Later this week, she said the state will have information about what the numbers mean for Iowa, though she called for continued adherence to mitigation efforts.
Today, the governor also gave updates on each region’s rating according to the matrix used by the state.
Sunday, April 12
Total Iowa Cases: 1,587
Seven additional deaths were announced today in Linn (61-80 years old), (61-80), (81+), (81+), (81+), 81+); and Washington (81+) counties. The statewide death toll is 41.
Linn and Washington counties have experienced an outsized number of deaths compared to the rest of the state because there are outbreaks of COVID-19 at a nursing home in each county.
Today’s press release from the Iowa Department of Public Health notes: “Today’s results do not reflect a complete 24-hour cycle of testing as IDPH is currently transitioning to new reporting time frames.”
Saturday, April 11
Total Iowa Cases: 1,510
Three additional deaths were announced today in Crawford (61-80 years old); Johnson (81+); and Madison (61-80) counties. The statewide death toll is up to 34.
The number of counties impacted is 81 out of 99.
Friday, April 10
Total Iowa Cases: 1,388
Two additional deaths were announced today in Linn County (61-80 years old), (81+), bringing the statewide death toll to 31.
Newly-impacted counties are: Osceola and Union.
Here is the data, as of Thursday, public health officials are using to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in three regions of the state hit hardest by the virus:
Starting Line explored the data behind these regions, and the 12-point assessment scale used to close businesses and limit public gatherings, in an April 5 article.
At today’s press conference the Iowa Department of Public Health issued a PPE (personal protective equipment) shortage order, requiring health care providers to reuse face masks, use washable gowns, minimize contact with patients, cancel all non-essential appointments and procedures and utilize telemedicine “whenever possible.”
“We understand the issuance of this order may be unsettling, but due to the global shortage of PPE supply, we have determined that now is the time to take this action,” said IDPH deputy director Sarah Reisetter.
The national stockpile of PPE is nearly empty, an issue Gov. Kim Reynolds said has left Iowa, and all states, with unfilled orders of gowns, face masks, gloves and face shields.
Thursday, April 9
Total Iowa Cases: 1,270
Two additional deaths were announced today in Linn County (61-80 years old), (81+).
A COVID-19 outbreak at a Cedar Rapids nursing home, where at least 84 of Linn County’s cases stem from, continues to be the state’s deadliest hot spot.
The statewide death toll is up to 29, with nearly half of the deceased living in long-term care facilities.
The number of counties impacted remains the same at 79 out of 99.
New statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor and Iowa Workforce Development were announced today regarding unemployment claims between May 29 and April 4. Last week, 64,187 Iowans newly filed for unemployment. The number of continuing weekly unemployment claims is up to 92,962 with health care and social assistance; manufacturing; retail trade; accommodation and food services; and construction workers filing the most claims.
Last week, IWD paid more than $27 million in unemployment benefits.
Today, Iowa passed neighboring Minnesota in the total number of positive coronavirus cases reported. This is the first time Iowa’s cases have topped a neighboring state with a larger population by raw number of cases.
Wednesday, April 8
Total Iowa Cases: 1,145
One additional death was announced in Linn County today. The individual was at least 81 years old.
Newly-impacted counties are: Worth.
As of Tuesday evening, Gov. Reynolds said 122 Iowans were hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 431 have recovered, amounting to 38% of all positive cases in the state.
Since Iowa launched its Small Business Relief Program two weeks ago, Reynolds said the Iowa Department of Revenue received 5,700 tax deferral applications and expects to approve an additional 2,300 this week while continuing to review the rest. The application is open through the end of the month.
Additionally, the Iowa Economic Development Authority received 14,000 applications (at least 15 from each county) from businesses requesting a total of more than $140 million in grant assistance. Reynolds announced at today’s press conference she would expand the initial $4 million program to $24 million. The first round of funding, she said, will assist about 500 restaurants, bars and breweries.
“These businesses were among the first to close their normal operation and it is our goal to get them back up and running as soon as possible,” Reynolds said.
“We determined eligibility and the businesses identifying the greatest revenue disruption were awarded in this first round of funding that went out last evening,” said Debbie Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. “As a reminder, this program was designed to be short-term, stop-gap funding until our federal resources became identified or available.”
For the 503 businesses awarded grants first, Durham said funding totaled more than $10 million, with grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.
Tuesday, April 7
Total Iowa Cases: 1,048
One additional death was reported in the state today. In Benton County, an individual at least 81 years old died due to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 26.
Newly impacted counties are: Buena Vista, Delaware and Greene.
As of Monday evening, Gov. Reynolds said 104 people were hospitalized and 341 were deemed “recovered” from COVID-19. IDPH deputy director Sarah Reisetter said for someone to be considered “recovered” from the respiratory disease, the individual must have self-isolated for seven days beginning at the onset of their symptoms and for an additional three days “after the resolution of their fever or other symptoms.”
“We’re not doing test-based recovered measures at this particular point in time due to our limited number of tests that we do have available,” Reisetter said at today’s press conference.
Louisa County, a rural county in Southeast Iowa with no hospital, saw a significant single-day spike in cases due to the detection of an outbreak at the Tyson Foods pork processing plant in Columbus Junction. More than a dozen of the plant’s 1,400 workers tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release. Suspension of activity at the plant will last at least one week.
IDPH also confirmed today the names of long-term care facilities experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. They include Heritage Speciality Care in Linn County, McCreedy Home in Washington County and Premier Estates of Toledo in Tama County.
Gov. Reynolds said that she is still relying on regional metrics to determine when she will trigger a shelter in place order. This process divides the state up into six regions, and awards points to each region on a 12-point scale. The score is based on the percent of population over 65; percent of cases requiring hospitalization; number of new cases in the last 14 days per 100,000 people; and the number of outbreaks at long term care facilities. Each of these metrics are rated on a scale of one to three. Once a region reaches a score of 10, a shelter-in-place order will be given. The map below shows the current level that each region in the state has accrued.
Starting Line dug into these numbers and found that each region earned the following score, based on publicly available information.
These numbers show that in order to trigger a shelter-in-place warning in Region 5, there must be at least one more outbreak at a long-term care facility. This is the only metric that can increase because the percent of people over 65 is static, and the other two metrics are already maxed out.
Monday, April 6
Total Iowa Cases: 946
Three additional deaths were reported today in Linn (61-80 years old) and Tama (81+), (81+) counties, bringing the statewide death toll to 25. As of Sunday evening, 99 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19.
Newly impacted counties are: Chickasaw, Winnebago, Franklin and Marion.
Long-term care facilities are experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19 in Linn, Tama and Washington counties. Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of IDPH, said the number of cases at a long-term care facility is considered an “outbreak” when at least three residents have tested positive for COVID-19.
Today at the governor’s daily press conference, which is moving to 11 a.m. Monday-Friday, she broadened her order to close non-essential businesses to include: malls, social/fraternal clubs, bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades, amusement parks, libraries, museums, zoos, skating rinks/parks, outdoor/indoor playgrounds, tobacco/vaping stores, racetracks, toy/gaming/music/instrument/movie stores and campgrounds.
“All of the closures and restrictions outlined in the disaster emergency proclamations will be enforced, specifically the limitation on social gatherings,” Reynolds said.
Iowans found to be violating the governor’s orders will be charged with a simple misdemeanor if warnings to cease the illegal behavior are ignored.
A model from the University of Washington that has garnered a lot of attention from state and federal officials has changed its projections for Iowa to take into account school closures. It now predicts 420 Iowans will die from COVID-19 between now and Aug. 4 and does not expect a shortage of hospital or ICU beds. The model previously predicted a death toll of 1,488.
Sunday, April 5
Total Iowa Cases: 868
Iowa reported eight additional deaths today in Appanoose (81+ years old); Johnson (61-80); Polk (61-80), (61-80), (81+); Linn (81+); Scott (81+); and Washington (61-80) counties. Twenty-two deaths in the state have occurred due to COVID-19.
Newly-impacted counties are: Clarke and Hamilton.
IDPH says more than 10% of all positive cases in the state are occurring among long-term care staff and residents, and more than 40% of deaths are associated with outbreaks at long-term care facilities.
Saturday, April 4
Total Iowa Cases: 786
Eighty-seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported today, including deaths in Linn (61-80 years old); Polk (61-80); and Henry (41-60) counties. The statewide death toll is up to 14.
Newly-impacted counties are: Lee, Mills, Howard and Grundy.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 9,454 tests reported by the State Hygienic Lab and others have been negative.
Friday, April 3
Total Iowa Cases: 699
Eighty-five new cases of COVID-19 were reported today, but no additional deaths.
Newly-impacted counties are: Lyon, Plymouth and Louisa.
During her daily press conference, Gov. Reynolds clarified the legal implication of violating her order to limit public gatherings to 10 people or less, stating it is a simple misdemeanor, which can be punished by a fine and/or jail time.
Also today, the Iowa Board of Medicine voted unanimously in support of a statewide stay-at-home order.
Thursday, April 2
Total Iowa Cases: 614
Two additional deaths due to COVID-19 were announced today, both individuals (61-80 years old) in Linn County, bringing the statewide death toll to at least 11.
Newly-impacted counties are: Bremer, Jefferson and Delaware.
Iowa Workforce Development announced 55,963 Iowans filed for unemployment between March 22-28, the largest one-week spike in state history. Between March 15-21, 40,952 Iowans filed for unemployment.
Gov. Reynolds extended her order to close non-essential businesses (fitness centers, theaters, casinos, senior citizen centers, swimming pools, salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, tanning facilities and many types of retail stores, including clothes, books and jewelry); limit restaurants and bars to carry-out and delivery orders only; halt non-essential surgeries and dental procedures; and limit social gatherings to 10 people or less; through the end of April.
The recommendation to close K-12 schools also extends through April 30, and the Iowa legislative session will remain suspended.
Reynolds’ initial State of Public Health Disaster Emergency declaration, issued March 17, expired March 31. The declaration was extended once before, March 26-April 17, to include new mitigation efforts.
On Thursday morning, Democratic leaders in the Iowa House and Senate called on Reynolds to issue a “statewide shelter-in-place order.”
Iowa currently is one of only five states that has not issued a regional or statewide stay-at-home order.
“A statewide shelter-in-place sends a clearer message about the serious nature of this pandemic,” the letter, signed by Sen. Janet Petersen and Rep. Todd Prichard, states. “The current patchwork of recommendations is confusing, raising more questions than answers about what Iowans should be doing to help save lives.”
Wednesday, April 1
Total Iowa Cases: 549
Polk County reported its first death today caused by COVID-19 and Washington County reported its second, bringing the statewide death toll to nine. Both deaths were adults 81 or older. Between the State Hygienic Lab and others, 7,304 tests have come back negative. Fifty-two additional cases were announced today, for a total of 549 positive cases since March 8.
Newly-impacted counties are: Madison, O’Brien and Mitchell.
Though Gov. Reynolds has encouraged social distancing and minimal public activity since the coronavirus took hold in Iowa, at today’s press conference her typical guidance to “stay home when you’re sick” became “essential errands only. Go out as little as possible, make sure that you’re going for groceries or medical — limit trips out and do them one at a time.”
When asked about the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model, which the federal government is now using to help predict surges of coronavirus cases and the number of nationwide deaths, the deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health pointed out the model “does not take into account” non-essential business closures that were implemented or school closings.
Tuesday, March 31
Total Iowa Cases: 497
There were 73 new cases of COVID-19 in Iowa announced today, bringing the statewide total up to 497. One more person has died from the illness a man in the 41-60 age range in Muscatine County. 19 of the new cases are located in Linn County, where Heritage Specialty Care nursing home currently has 30 cases. Linn County now leads the state in cases by a decent margin.
Monday, March 30
Total Iowa Cases: 424
Iowa saw another large jump in cases today, with 88 new confirmed cases bringing the statewide total up to 424. Two new deaths were reported as well, both from older adults (81+), one in Linn County and one in Washington County. 51 people are currently hospitalized.
Newly-impacted counties are: Crawford, Audubon, Guthrie, Jones, Jackson and Van Buren.
Polk County also continues to see a steep rise in cases, with 61 total now.
Linn County now has the most cases in the state, with 71. Gov. Reynolds announced today that there is an outbreak in a longterm care facility in Cedar Rapids, accounting for 21 of Linn County’s 71 cases.
“The reality is that the end is not yet in sight,” Reynolds said at today’s press conference.
Reynolds also said today that the state will be getting this week at least 15 mobile testing units that can deliver results on COVID-19 tests within minutes.
3rd District Congresswoman Cindy Axne sent a letter to Reynolds asking her to issue a “stay-at-home” order in Iowa, as 1st District Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer did last week.
“If the state’s public health experts are predicting an imminent spike already,” Axne wrote, “why then would we not consider a step that would keep all but the most essential workers at home to avoid deepening these shortages (of personal protective equipment) over the next month?”
The U.S. House and Senate determine they will not reconvene for votes in Washington, D.C., until at least April 20.
Sunday, March 29
Total Iowa Cases: 336
Iowa announced 38 new positive COVID-19 cases today, bringing the statewide total up to 336. There is an additional death in Linn County, an adult in the 61-80 age range. Polk County saw a sizable jump with ten new cases. There does not appear to be any newly-impacted counties on the map today.
Overall, there have been 5,013 negative tests by the state lab and private labs in Iowa.
At the governor’s press conference today, the deputy director of IDPH said current projections show Iowa hitting its peak of cases in two to three weeks, but emphasized that numbers are constantly changing.
Saturday, March 28
Total Iowa Cases: 298
There were 64 new cases in Iowa reported this morning (if you’re wondering why the total numbers don’t add up from yesterday, it’s because one previous COVID-19 case in Black Hawk County is not a person from Iowa). Counties with their first positive cases are: Keokuk, Taylor, Shelby, Boone.
Friday, March 27
Total Iowa Cases: 235
Iowa saw its largest jump in cases by far today, with 56 new positive COVID-19 results taking the state total up to 235 total. 46 of Iowa’s 99 counties are now impacted, with the following counties seeing their first positive case today: Clinton, Butler, Hardin, Wright, Webster, Dickinson, Marshall, Iowa, Montgomery.
Two additional deaths from COVID-19 were also reported by the Governor. One was an elderly (81+) adult in Poweshiek County, the other was older adult (60-80) in Allamakee County.
Rep. Abby Finkenauer publicly called on Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a “stay-at-home” order statewide in Iowa. All three of Iowa’s deaths so far have occurred in Finkenauer’s 1st District. Finkenauer was in D.C. today to vote in favor of the federal Phase 3 coronavirus relief package. She briefly spoke on the House floor:
We just passed the CARES Act sending relief to our hospitals, frontline workers, and working families across the country. Here are my remarks on the House floor before our vote. #IA01 pic.twitter.com/6HExiOB75J
— Abby Finkenauer (@RepFinkenauer) March 27, 2020
Gov. Reynolds said President Trump’s suggestion that governors rank the risk of each county is “not my priority right now.” She also once again said that a shelter-in-place order may disrupt the supply chain for health care facilities.
“I believe that Iowans don’t need an order to do the right thing,” Reynolds said of her continued reluctance to issue such an order.
Thursday, March 26
Total Iowa Cases: 179
Iowa saw its largest one-day jump yet in COVID-19 cases: 34. New counties impacted are Monona, Page, Des Moines, Appanoose, Mahaska and Clayton.
New reports showed that 41,890 Iowans applied for unemployment insurance last week, a massive — if expected — jump over the 2,489 in the week previous.
Reynolds announced at her press conference that she was ordering that many forms of retail shops, including book stores, furniture stores, clothing and jewelry stores, among others, must close tonight. The state will also forbid all elective and non-essential surgeries and medical procedures through the duration of the crisis. Health insurance companies must also charge the same for telehealth visits as in-person visits. And all existing closures to bars and restaurants would be extended another week, through April 7.
A Starting Line reader sent in this graph they made off the data in this timeline to show Iowa’s increase in COVID-19 cases, now hitting exponential growth:
Wednesday, March 25
Total Iowa Cases: 145
There were 21 new cases of COVID-19 in Iowa announced this morning. Benton County receives its first confirmed cases.
Minnesota issues a stay-at-home order. That makes three of Iowa’s neighbor states — Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois — taking such action.
Reynolds again encourages those who can stay home to do so, but insists that, based on the data that Iowa is seeing, the state does not require a mandated shut-down yet. She also voices concern about harming the supply chain of goods needed for hospitals if a full shelter-at-home order is made.
Iowa has 280 ventilators not currently in use, with more requested from the federal government. The state currently has the capacity for 1,270 tests through the state lab, along with an unspecified amount through private testers.
Tonight the U.S. Senate passed its “phase three” coronavirus response bill on a 96-0 vote. The $2 trillion bill includes one-time direct payments to American adults and their children; small business loans; aid for states and local governments; and an expansion of unemployment insurance, among other provisions. The legislation now moves to the House, which is expected to convene Friday for a vote.
Tuesday, March 24
Total Iowa Cases: 124
Tonight the Iowa Department of Public Health announced the first death of an Iowan due to COVID-19. The individual was between 61 and 80 years old and lived in Dubuque County.
The day began with 19 more positive cases. Warren, Jasper, Buchanan and Cedar counties are now impacted.
Reynolds says that 18 Iowans have been hospitalized with complications from coronavirus, with one being released last night. Asked about President Trump’s desire to quickly remove business and personal travel restrictions, Reynolds said, “I’m not prepared at this time to say a date, because all along, the decisions are so fluid.”
In Cedar Rapids, two employees at a nursing home there have tested positive for COVID-19.
In Kossuth County, a 38-year-old woman told media her COVID-19 infection was serious enough that she had to go on a ventilator.
In Dubuque, a man continued going into his workplace while he waited a week on his COVID-19 test. He thought he simply had flu symptoms, but ended up testing positive for the coronavirus.
Today, Wisconsin implemented a statewide stay-at-home order, to run through April 24. Reynolds and health leaders said they didn’t believe the data of infections in Iowa shows the state needs to do that.
“It’s important to understand that sheltering in place for two or three weeks will not cause the coronavirus to go away,” the deputy public health director said at the press conference.
Monday, March 23
Total Iowa Cases: 105
With 15 new positive cases reported in the morning, Hancock and Wapello counties are added to the map.
Today in her press conference, Reynolds was much more explicit at encouraging everyone who could stay home to do so, not just those who feel ill in some way. It was not a shelter-at-home mandate, though. She also announced new disaster assistance to small businesses in the forms of grants and short-term loans to get businesses through the current time until federal assistance started flowing.
Reynolds noted they’ve seen a 47% drop in non-commercial traffic on roads throughout the state, which she felt was a good sign that the warnings about the coronavirus was sinking in.
A new poll came out today that was conducted between March 16 and 17, showing that 47% of Iowans were “very concerned” and 38% were “somewhat concerned” about the pandemic.
During his press conference, President Trump called out several states for praise in the country’s interior with lower infection rates, including Iowa.
Sunday, March 22
Total Iowa Cases: 90
The state total has climbed to 90 positive cases, now involving Cerro Gordo, Kossuth, Sioux, Tama and Woodbury counties. 24 of Iowa’s 99 counties have confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Effective 10 p.m. tonight through March 31, a new executive order from Gov. Reynolds states all salons, barber shops, medical spas, massage therapists, tattoo shops and swimming pools must close.
Also today, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, tested positive for COVID-19. He is the first senator to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Two members of the House of Representatives have tested positive: Reps. Ben McAdams of Utah and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida. Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office said that Grassley was not close to Paul at a GOP luncheon earlier in the day. Sen. Joni Ernst was also at the lunch, but has not had direct contact with Paul in the past week; Ernst has not been tested herself.
Johnson County mayors ask all residents to stay at home.
Saturday, March 21
Total Iowa Cases: 68
The largest spike to date in COVID-19 cases came today with Reynolds’ announcement of 23 additional positive cases, bringing the state total to 68. Fayette, Henry, Linn, and Story counties are now affected.
The Meskwaki Tribal Council on the Settlement in Tama County issued an Emergency Declaration and shelter-in-place order, requiring residents to stay home unless they need groceries, medicine or need to visit the health clinic. At the time the order was issued, it had been determined there were “positive tests of community transmission on the Meskwaki Settlement.”
Friday, March 20
Total Iowa Cases: 45
Gov. Kim Reynolds announces she will hold a daily press conference at 2:30 starting Monday to update Iowans on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Up-to-date unemployment figures are expected to be released next week, taking into account the vast number of people who are now out of work due to the coronavirus. Today an additional positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Allamakee County, bringing the state total to 45.
Neighboring Illinois has ordered a stay-at-home directive, but Reynolds says she’s not considering that right now for Iowa.
Nationwide Insurance, which has a large downtown Des Moines campus, reports one of their employees tested positive for COVID-19.
Reynolds also approves bars to do carry-out orders of alcohol.
Thursday, March 19
Total Iowa Cases: 44
During a press conference — the first to institute social distancing practices for state workers and the press — Reynolds says there are now 44 positive cases of COVID-19 in Iowa. 13 counties are affected, with cases now detected in Muscatine and Dubuque counties, in addition to Winnkeshiek, Allamakee, Black Hawk, Johnson, Washington, Polk, Dallas, Adair, Carroll, Harrison and Pottawattamie counties.
The governor’s office says the state has the ability to test 800 people through the State Hygienic Laboratory. The number of available tests changes daily. Private companies are providing tests as well, but they only get sent to the state lab if the patient fits the specific state criteria.
“I think it’s important to keep in mind that not everybody does need to be tested,” State Medical Director and epidemiologist Caitlin Pedati says at the press conference, “and in fact, many of us probably will never need to be tested. That’s in part because most of us, about 80%, would experience only a very mild kind of illness, similar to a cold or flu-type illness.”
Reynolds does not intend to recommend Iowans “shelter in place,” as California and New York have done to limit residents’ time at non-essential public places.
The state extends filing deadlines for many forms of taxes.
The Principal Building, downtown Des Moines’ largest office building, will close 20 floors for a “deep clean” after a visitor tests positive COVID-19.
Wednesday, March 18
Total Iowa Cases: 38
The governor announces nine new cases of COVID-19, with Iowans in Washington and Winneshiek counties now affected. It’s the biggest one-day jump so far. The state total is 38.
Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley are among the 90 senators who vote in favor of the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.” It is the second piece of legislation signed by President Trump to combat the coronavirus. Both Ernst and Grassley vote for an amendment that would have taken the paid sick leave out of the version of the bill that House Democrats passed.
Also today, Grassley takes to Twitter to question why it’s inappropriate to refer to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.”
The Iowa Statehouse is now closed to all visitors.
Fareway and Hy-Vee grocery stores adjust their hours to allow for more cleaning and resupply in the evenings.
Tuesday, March 17
Total Iowa Cases: 27
Reynolds signs Senate File 2408 into law, initiating the release of additional funds for Medicaid, other health programs and the state hygienic laboratory. The bill also gives Reynolds the authority to waive the required days students must be in school so buildings can remain closed as long as needed.
At 10:15 a.m., Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency proclamation. The key takeaways here are that restaurants and bars are prohibited from serving dine-in customers. They only can serve food and drinks through carry-out or delivery. Fitness centers, theaters, casinos and senior citizen centers also must be closed to the public. The governor’s order limits public gatherings to no more than 10 people.
News of the order quickly spreads around the state as bars and restaurants shutter on St. Patrick’s Day.
By the end of the day, six new cases are confirmed, now involving Adair and Black Hawk counties. The state total is 29.
Monday, March 16
Total Iowa Cases: 23
The Iowa Legislature convenes for one last time before suspending session for at least 30 days. Two tents are set up outside the Capitol by IDPH to give medical screenings to all those looking to enter the building. Tours of the Statehouse have been shut down.
Lawmakers work late into the evening to pass an emergency appropriations bill to respond to and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
At a press conference, Reynolds announces a new positive case in Dallas County. The state total is 23. Today she also informed the public how Iowa Workforce Development will assist workers and employers impacted by layoffs related to COVID-19. A second shift is added to the state lab, allowing Iowa to run 108 COVID-19 tests a day.
President Trump changed his tone today about the seriousness of the pandemic, rolling out his “15 Days To Slow The Spread” guidance, including limiting public gatherings to no more than 10 people.
Sunday, March 15
Total Iowa Cases: 22
At 8:08 p.m. on Sunday, Reynolds recommends, but does not mandate, schools close for four weeks. The announcement comes in light of “community spread” in the state, with four more positive cases determined, three of which could not be traced to a travel-related risk or known exposure to someone infected with the coronavirus. Polk and Allamakee counties report their first positive cases. The state total is 22.
Rep. Abby Finkenauer sends a letter to Reynolds requesting more clarity from the state on their planned actions to combat the spread of the virus.
Saturday, March 14
Total Iowa Cases: 18
Reynolds publicly acknowledges community spread in Iowa for the first time.
“At this time, school closures are not recommended,” Reynolds’ press release states.
Dallas County reports its first positive case, with no known links to travel or direct contact with an infected individual. The state total is 18.
4th District Congressman Steve King is one of 40 House Republicans to vote against the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.” At the time of the vote, two cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in King’s Western Iowa district. All three of Iowa’s congressional Democrats vote in favor of the bill.
Iowa Republicans go through with holding their county conventions today.
Friday, March 13
Total Iowa Cases: 17
An Iowan tested positive for COVID-19 in Nebraska, bringing the state total to 17.
According to the governor’s office, “All positive cases in Iowa at this time are travel related.”
The Iowa Democratic Party postpones county conventions scheduled for March 21. The Republican Party of Iowa holds its county conventions on March 14.
The Des Moines Public School District announces they will close through March 29 at least. They are the first major Iowa school district to do so.
Thursday, March 12
Total Iowa Cases: 16
Two additional positive cases are announced today, both tied to the group of Iowans who traveled recently on an Egyptian cruise. Carroll County reports its first positive case. The state total is 16.
Wednesday, March 11
Total Iowa Cases: 14
Another Iowan on the Egyptian cruise tests positive. At this point, 13 of the state’s 14 cases are in Johnson County.
Iowa’s three state universities — the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa — announce they will all move their classes online through the rest of the semester.
Today the World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic.
State Sen. Rob Hogg calls for the Statehouse to shut down for the time being.
Tuesday, March 10
Total Iowa Cases: 13
Five new cases are announced today, all from Johnson County and all from the Egyptian cruise. The state total is 13.
Grinnell College says students must leave campus by March 23 and after March 30, at the conclusion of students’ spring break, classes will be conducted online through the remainder of the semester. Grinnell is the first college or university in Iowa to alter its campus because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Board of Regents asks the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and Northern Iowa University “to move as quickly as possible towards the ability to deliver instruction virtually.”
Monday, March 9
Total Iowa Cases: 8
Reynolds signs a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency as five new cases of COVID-19 are confirmed. Four of the infected individuals are from Johnson County and were on the cruise ship. The other case, the first reported outside Johnson County, came from a person in Pottawattamie County who recently traveled to California.
Sunday, March 8
Total Iowa Cases: 3
The first three “presumptive positive” cases of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are confirmed in Iowa. The three individuals are from Johnson County and recently traveled on a cruise ship in Egypt.
The press release from Reynolds states: “No additional or special precautions are recommended for Iowans beyond the simple daily precautions to combat the flu including washing hands, frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when ill.”
Saturday, March 7
The governor orders a “partial activation” of the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston “to ensure State of Iowa agencies are prepared in the event COVID-19 is detected in the state.”
Friday, March 6
Neighboring Nebraska confirms its first case of COVID-19. The patient is a 36-year-old woman with a history of respiratory illness who recently returned from the United Kingdom, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
President Trump tours the CDC in Atlanta, falsely saying, “Anybody that needs a test can have a test … The tests are all perfect.”
Thursday, March 5
On a conference call with Iowa reporters, Sen. Joni Ernst says: “With the coronavirus, again, it is the flu. We need to understand, it is the flu, but it is still a new strain of the flu and not fully understanding how this virus might adapt and change, we just want to make sure we are getting the resources out to our public health officials as quickly as possible so that we can curb any additional outbreaks and effectively treat those that might end up suffering from the coronavirus.”
Also today, Congress approves an $8.3 billion emergency spending package to help public health agencies and state and local governments respond to the coronavirus.
Reynolds writes on Twitter: “This morning, I met with @IAPublicHealth and @IAHSEMD (Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management) to discuss the potential dangers of the Coronavirus. Iowa remains at low risk, but we are taking every precaution to keep Iowans safe and healthy.
Neighboring Illinois confirms its first positive case of COVID-19, the second in the United States. The Chicago resident recently returned to the city from Wuhan, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms the first case of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States in the state of Washington. The patient recently returned from Wuhan, China, where an outbreak of pneumonia caused by the virus has been ongoing since December 2019.
Information and updates by Nikoel Hytrek, Elizabeth Meyer, Adam Henderson and Pat Rynard