Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference on Tuesday as she provided an update on the status of COVID-19 in the Hawkeye State.
She noted that the positivity rate has dropped significantly statewide in the past week and that the number of hospitalizations has also fallen.
However, she wasn’t ready to call the downward trajectory a trend, instead calling it a stabilization.
“It is way, way, way too early to really say this is a trend,” she said. “So we’re going to continue to monitor it and see if there are other things we need to do.”
While the numbers are trending positively, Reynolds hinted not much would change in the next month.
“Concentrate on what you can do now and over the next four weeks to stop the spread,” she said. “We know that each of us can make a difference in slowing the spread of COVID-19.”
Despite the increased usage of PPE in hospitals, long-term care facilities and other healthcare providers, Iowa’s supply of PPE is strong.
Reynolds said the Iowa Department of Public Health is putting together a vaccination strategy, and those who are direct care workers, maintain critical infrastructure or are at the highest risk for developing a serious illness from COVID are likely to receive the vaccine first.
The vaccine brings hope that life will return to normal soon, Reynolds said. But she added it will take some time for the vaccine to be widely available and called on Iowans to be patient while doing everything they can to prevent getting and spreading the virus.
“That’s especially important this week as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday season,” Reynolds said. “As we saw during the summer months, holidays can result in the spike of virus activity and new cases – something that we cannot risk at this time. I still believe that, together, we can keep the numbers trending in the right direction.”
Reynolds asked Iowans to take the amount of planning they typically put into preparing their family’s favorite holiday meal or purchasing special gifts and put the same time and effort into keeping their family healthy.
“Which may mean having to adjust your traditions,” she said, noting that holiday guidance has been issued by the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Food insecurity is plaguing the state as it has doubled since March and tripled for households with children.
One reporter asked Reynolds about doing more to protect residents of long-term care facilities and essentially said that Iowans’ actions are killing people whether they know anyone who works or lives in a facility or not.
Reynolds responded that the message hasn’t changed since the beginning. She added that it is easy to look back and ask if she could’ve done more, but stressed the importance of considering lives as well as livelihoods.
In an odd turn, Reynolds took a question she received from the media and flipped it on them.
“It’s easy to second guess,” she said. “So, I appreciate that. And that’s the opportunity that you all have. So, join me in helping remind Iowans. Did the stations and the papers remind Iowans of the simple things that they could do to help slow the spread? Were you a course in adding volume to what we were trying to say?”
Finally, she noted the importance of being careful not to over-mitigate and instead continue having people still feel like they’re part of the answer.
Reynolds pointed to residents and businesses in California that are protesting oppressive mitigation measures that have been unrelenting throughout the pandemic.
“We’re trying to balance that and do the right thing on behalf of Iowans,” she said. “We’re not perfect. We’ve made mistakes, but we’ve tried to do the best job we could.”