Governor announces launch of new Iowa website on state coronavirus response

Governor Kim Reynolds speaks at the Iowa Capitol. Photo by John Pemble/Iowa Public Radio

Gov. Kim Reynolds thanked entities supporting Iowa’s State Emergency Operation Center for helping her maintain her commitment to keep Iowans informed during the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, and drew attention to a new website launched this week to inform Iowans on all aspects of the virus while warning against “misinformation, false narratives and harmful rumors.”

“The new website (coronavirus.iowa.gov) is intended to be a one-stop-shop for Iowans looking for any type of information related to COVID-19 mitigation and response efforts in our state,” she explained. “The website will guide you to a variety of useful information from state agencies on topics such as health and human resources, employment and unemployment, business, education, travel and transportation, as well as public safety.”

The governor committed to continuing press conferences on a “nearly-daily” basis and guided the public to rely on the CDC for the most up to date information on the virus. While praising the power of social media for its ability to keep people connected, she urged a public searching for news and information on the coronavirus to be wary.

“Social media is a great way to stay connected with friends and family, especially while we are social distancing and spending more time at home. But it’s also ripe for misinformation, false narratives and harmful rumors,” she warned. “Rumors and speculation are not helpful at a time like this. Don’t be a part of it. It only adds to the anxiety that so many people are already experiencing. It’s so important we don’t get distracted by the noise, and we get information from credible, reliable sources.”

The governor was joined by Sarah Reisetter, Deputy Director of The Iowa Department of Public Health, who thanked Iowans for the measures they are taking to protect public safety, and said that the “shelter in place” or “stay-at-home” mitigation strategies other states have been employing were not necessary in Iowa at this time.

“The Iowa Department of Public Health will continue to recommend implementation of additional mitigation strategies when we determine those additional strategies to be necessary,” she said. “Think of this as a dial, and not a switch. We will recommend turning the dial up and down over time. That’s how we will slow the spread of the virus in our state in order to prevent overwhelming our health care system and to protect our health care workers and our vulnerable populations.”

She noted Public Health has already recommended a number of mitigation measures, including school closures, increased teleworking and telelearning, limiting unnecessary travel – especially among high-risk groups – limiting visitors to health care facilities, avoiding gatherings, staying home when possible and social distancing.

She said the department looks at a variety of metrics on a daily basis, including the percentage of the population that is 65 or older, the percentage of identified cases requiring hospitalization, the rate of infection per 100,000 Iowans in the past 14 days, the number of outbreaks in settings such as long-term care facilities, as well as the  experiences of other states when making recommendations to the governor and community partners.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been notified of 19 additional positive cases of Iowans with COVID-19, for a total of 124 positive cases as of Tuesday.

There have been a total of 2,315 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs.

According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the 19 individuals include:

  • Black Hawk, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Buchanan County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Cedar County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Dallas County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Jasper County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Johnson County, 1 middle-aged adult, 1 older adult
  • Muscatine County, 2 older adults (61-80)
  • Polk County, 3 adults, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years), 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Poweshiek County 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Story County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)
  • Tama County, 1 middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
  • Warren County, 1 adult (18-40 years)
  • Washington County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)

A status report of monitoring and testing of COVID19 in Iowa is provided by IDPH and can be found here. In addition, a public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about COVID-19. The line is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431.

The state of Iowa has started sharing the number of negative tests conducted at outside labs and is providing additional information on the conditions of those infected with COVID-19.

On Monday, Gov. Reynolds announced that first quarter unemployment tax payments that are due April 30 will be delayed till the end of the second quarter, July 31. Eligible employers include those employers with 50 or fewer employees. Eligible employers also must be in good standing with no delinquencies in quarterly payments.

Employers must notify IWD of intent to delay payment by Friday, April 24 at 4:30 p.m.