Reynolds tells of discussion with Trump, rolls out updates to IDPH COVID website

Gov Kim Reynolds opened her daily COVID-19 press briefing Thursday, May 7, with an enthusiastic report of her trip to Washington, DC, Wednesday to talk with President Trump and others.

When asked, she said she isn’t quarantining because she traveled by private jet, was administered a Abbott rapid test when she arrived at the White House, had her temperature checked multiple times there, and returned immediately to Iowa after her White House meeting.

She reported telling the president’s COVID task force about Iowa’s “aggressive testing strategy and robust case investigation, all to contain and manage virus activity here in Iowa.”

State epidemiologist Dr Caitlin Pedati accompanied Reynolds. According to Reynolds, the president invited Pedati to be on the federal coronavirus task force. She will be the only state level professional on the task force. “I think that will allow the states’ perspective to be heard as we work through the coronavirus pandemic,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds shared with the president the challenges Iowa is facing as the supplier of 10 percent of the nation’s food, among other things.

Also at the Thursday press briefing, Reynolds foreshadowed the state’s strategy for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The targeted mitigation efforts put in place in mid-March, after spread of the coronavirus was “substantial,” to slow the spread, flatten the curve, and keep from overwhelming the healthcare system. “Iowans do what they always do – they responded,” Reynolds said.

“That gave us time to put in place the RMCC regions… and eventually we were able to identify on a daily basis the number of beds, ICU beds and vents that were in use and were available… Since we accomplished making sure we had healthcare resources available, we now have shifted our focus from mitigation of resources to managing and containing virus activity as we begin to open Iowa back up.”

She said making sure Iowans were informed was part of the process.

Reynolds also during the press briefing rolled out updates to the coronavirus.iowa website, to make it easier for Iowans to access data and information about COVID-19 across the state. The visuals are different and data is provided so as to make it easier to follow trends on a daily basis. Information can be filtered to a lower level, “so Iowans can access the information that’s the most relevant to them,” Reynolds said.

The data will also be more timely with the end of a reporting period at 11:59 pm rather than 10 am. Information provided Thursday was current as of 11 pm Wednesday, not as of 10 am Wednesday as it was before the update.

During the Q & A, Reynolds was asked if with the current knowledge of coronavirus shows some of the mitigation steps taken weren’t necessary or aren’t necessary for the future.

Reynolds said at the outset the strategy was to protect Iowans and manage resources, but that the state is ready to move to the next phase, to open up in “a safe and responsible manner.”

“I’ve been so impressed with the businesses, churches, everybody. They’re really being responsible. They’re making their decisions on whether they’re ready to open up, if that’s the right thing for them to do… My hope is that we continue to watch the trends and monitor the activity, and that we continue to open things up as we move forward,” the governor said.

To a question about whether it’s appropriate to open Woodbury County, which arrived late to the COVID Hot Spot scene, Reynolds answered, “Iowans will make the decision whether they want to go to a facility or not….If you don’t feel comfortable going to these establishments, don’t go.”

As of Wednesday at 11:59 pm, 13 Greene County residents have tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 160 county residents have been tested for a positive rate of 8.1 percent.

Statewide, there have been 11,059 positive tests, or 16.6 percent of the 66,427 Iowans tested. The death toll is 231. Eighty-seven percent of those who have died are 61 years or older.

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