Reynolds reopens stores and other businesses across Iowa

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds holds a news conference on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, on Tuesday, May 5, 2020.

OSKALOOSA — The last 24 hours have brought 4,562 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Iowa, trouncing the previous single-day record. Sixty-one of those were in Marion County.

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Iowans must work to slow the spread.

Reynolds, speaking in a televised press conference for the first time since Oct. 7, implemented no new mandates or guidelines. However, she again implored Iowans to do their part to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Iowans can do that, she said, by wearing a mask, avoiding gatherings, social distance and stay home when sick.

She also said Iowans need to assess whether holiday gatherings are worth the risk, adding that much of the recent spread is tied to small gatherings.

“I understand that many people are tired of living differently because of COVID-19,” Reynolds said. “But in the big picture, these are really small sacrifices, and they will help us manage the virus while living life. For the next three weeks, at least, I am asking Iowans to make every effort to help us stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Reynolds will begin an ad campaign, targeting newspapers, television and radio, across the state. She pointed to recent election results to show the public supports her decision not to implement a mask requirement and her end to most restrictions on businesses.

“They agree with how we've handled COVID-19," she said.

On top of the 61 new cases reported in Marion County, neighboring Mahaska County had 27 new cases on Thursday.

The 14-day positivity rate in Marion County was up to 19.5% as of Thursday morning. The percentage was also 19.5% in Mahaska County.

The state reported one new case in the Oskaloosa Care Center, upping that facility’s total to 55. There are 10 recoveries at the facility, according to state data.

There were five new cases reported at Accura Healthcare of Knoxville, for a total now of 17.

There are 72 counties in the state with a 14-day positivity rate. Only four counties have a rate less than 10%. All counties are above 8%.

Experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization say a rate of 5% in a community is a signal of significant community spread.

Hospitalizations hit another new record in Iowa. There were 839 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals around the state as of Thursday morning. Of those, 188 were in an intensive care unit, also a record. There were 156 admitted in the last 24 hours.

Public health data reported 367 available ICU beds statewide. A model from Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects the state will run out of ICU beds by Dec. 5.

Reynolds signaled Thursday that hospital officials tell her they can manage current patient load, but they can not sustain growing patient numbers.

“Please protect your families, our communities and our healthcare workers by wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings, maintaining physical distancing and using meticulous hand hygiene,” said Dr. Hijinio Carreon, the chief medical officer at MercyOne Central Iowa in Des Moines.

“The illness burden in our community and our country is too high,” said Dr. David M. Williams, the chief clinical officer for UnityPoint Health. “And it’s time that we really buckle down and try to do something about it.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported that 10,353 individuals have been tested for the first time between 10 a.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. Thursday. There were 20 new deaths reported, crossing another plateau with 1,801 deaths since the pandemic began. There were 1,296 new recoveries.

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets. It is often mild and some individuals remain asymptomatic or have only cold or flu symptoms. But the disease can be more severe, require hospitalization and lead to death, particularly in older or immunocompromised people.

Experts, including those at the CDC, say wearing masks when in public, keeping at least 6 feet of distance between people when possible, and good hygiene can prevent the spread.

The Oskaloosa Herald relies on data reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health, using its coronavirus data dashboard at Data is checked each day at 10 a.m. and then compared to the data previously captured from the dashboard to produce stories.

The state has changed how it reported the data several times, and local officials often produce data based on different standards or in different timeframes. Therefore, the data will not always align with other sources.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Oskaloosa Herald and the Ottumwa Courier. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Group Editor

Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the first vice president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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