Iowa was one of seven states Dr. Anthony Fauci singled out as needing to take precautions over the Labor Day weekend to prevent a further surge in COVID-19 cases.
“There are several states that are at risk for surging, namely North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois,” Fauci said in an interview with Bloomberg this week. “Those states are starting to see an increase in the percent positive of their testing; that is generally predictive that there’s going to be a problem.”
Bloomberg also reported, “Fauci joined Vice President Mike Pence on a call with governors this week to urge them to tell their residents to follow guidance on masks, social distancing and other measures to lower the risks of contagion to ensure there aren’t repeats of the surges following the Memorial Day and July 4th weekends.”
The latest guidance for Iowa from the White House Coronavirus Task Force called on Gov. Kim Reynolds to takes such measures as imposing a statewide face mask mandate and closing bars and gyms in 61 counties until those counties have 14-day average positivity rates of 3 percent or lower.
Reynolds, who ordered bars to close in six counties on Aug. 27, dismissed the task force recommendations during her press conference on Wednesday. The governor repeated her insistence that a mask mandate is impractical — even though Iowa is only state that doesn’t have either a statewide mandate or state-approved local mandates — and said she would wait to see what happens.
“So, we’re going to monitor this next week and see if the mitigation efforts we’ve applied starts to reduce those numbers,” Reynolds said. “And if they don’t, then we’ll take additional steps. But right now, I feel that that’s the steps that we can take.”
The governor also said she believes that the task force made its recommendations because it didn’t understand what a good job Iowa is already doing to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“Sometimes they don’t have the entire picture of the things that we’re doing,” Reynolds said.
On Saturday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported another 1,024 Iowans had tested positive for COVID-19 during the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. It was the second day in a row the 24-hour total in the state exceeded 1,000 new cases. According to IDPH, the state’s 14-day average positivity rate was 11.1 percent.
The surge in Johnson County continued with IDPH confirming 113 new cases among county residents between 10 a.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday. Johnson County’s 14-day average positivity rate was 24.6 percent on Saturday, according to IDPH.
Linn County had 78 new cases of COVID-19 during the same period, according to IDPH. The department listed its 14-day positivity rate as 6.7 percent.
IDPH also reported another 23 deaths from the virus as of 10 a.m. on Saturday, bringing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,160.