New positive coronavirus cases reported in Scott, Muscatine counties

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KWQC) - The Iowa Department of Public Health has been notified of 21 additional positive cases of Iowans with the new coronavirus, COVID-19, for a total of 145 positive cases.

The new cases include two Scott County adults between the ages of 41 and 60 and a Muscatine County adult between the ages of 18-40, officials said Wednesday.

The two in Scott County are currently hospitalized, the Scott County Health Department said Wednesday morning.

Scott County now has three positive cases, while Muscatine County now has six, according to officials.

“We expect to see the number of confirmed cases increase in the community as testing becomes readily available and the virus becomes more widespread in the community,” Director Edward Rivers. “We must act together to do what we can to minimize the spread.”

Actions to minimize the spread include social distancing by staying at home as much as possible; washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time; covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow/upper arm; and staying home when ill.

There have been a total of 2,578 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs.

According to the IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the other positive cases include:

• Allamakee County, an adult between the ages of 41 and 60.
• Benton County, two adults between the ages of 41 and 60.
• Hancock County, an adult between the ages of 41 and 60.
• Johnson County, four adults between the ages of 18 and 40, an adult between the ages of 41 and 60, and an adult between the ages of 61 and 80.
• Linn County, an adult between the ages of 41 and 60.
• Polk County, three adults between the ages of 61 and 80.
• Poweshiek County, two adults between the ages of 61 and 80.
• Washington County, two adults between the ages of 18 and 40.

A status report of monitoring and testing of COVID19 in Iowa is provided by IDPH and can be found
here
.

A public hotline has been established for Iowans with questions about the coronavirus. 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.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said during a press conference Wednesday that mitigation efforts and policies that the state put into place are intentional to protect Iowans most at-risk - older adults above the age of 60 and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. She said eight of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been adults 65 and older.

Reynolds said the state is assessing its mitigation efforts to slow the spread of the virus and will determine whether or not it’s time to "turn the dial up or turn the dial down.”

“We are making these decisions based on metrics outlined by the Department of Public Health that they laid out yesterday,” she said. "Those metrics will indicate what and when additional steps should be taken.”

Those metrics include the percentage of the population that is 65 and older, the percentage of identified cases requiring hospitalization, the rate of infection per 100,000 Iowans in the past 14 days, and the number of outbreaks in settings like long-term care facilities where older populations and Iowans with underlying health conditions live.

Reynolds also defended the decision not to issue a shelter in place order at this time, saying many of the steps already taken in Iowa re equivalent to orders seen in other states. Those steps include closing schools and some businesses, implementing work from home and distance learning, and reducing gatherings to 10 people.

“The significant steps we’ve taken will help mitigate the spread of the virus, protect the most vulnerable Iowans and reduce our risk of overwhelming our healthcare system. It’s important also that we keep Iowa open for business in a responsible way that protects the health of our people and our economy.”

Reynolds says the state is working to provide relief to Iowa businesses and employees out of work and is making sure that they can access the resources they need.

The Iowa Workforce Development has increased the capacity of its mainframe and has redeveloped its field office staff to work in the call center so they can process more claims. Approximately 250 are now answering calls for Iowans who need them, Reynolds said.

She also said while personal protective equipment (PPE) continues to be an issue, Homeland Security, Emergency Management and the Iowa National Guard on Tuesday started receiving and distributing PPE to counties across Iowa.

Reynolds said the national guard conducted 26 missions Tuesday and 23 on Wednesday. More missions are planned for Thursday, she added.