Governor’s office omits more than 180 newly reported cases in its Sunday press release on COVID-19

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IDPH map of COVID-19 cases by county, May 24, 2020.

Because the Iowa Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 information site was undergoing scheduled maintenance this weekend, the governor’s office released press releases on Saturday and Sunday with updates on the number of newly confirmed cases of the virus and COVID-19 deaths.

The press release sent after 11:30 a.m. on Sunday stated, “Today, the state of Iowa has been notified of 263 additional positive cases for a total of 17,213 positive cases.” The press release did specify the reporting period this figure reflected, but the number of new cases it lists is, at best, misleading.

On Saturday, the governor’s office gave the total number of Iowans who have tested positive for COVID-19 as 16,767, meaning the Sunday total shows an increase of 446 cases. That is 183 more cases than the 263 reported in the press release.

A notice posted Sunday morning on IDPH’s COVID-19 site said, “Planned maintenance has successfully concluded and normal processes resumed.” As of 11 a.m., the site reported a total of 17,244 Iowans have tested positive for the virus. Compared to the number given in Saturday’s press release, that is an increase of 477 cases — 214 more new cases than the governor’s office announced.

Little Village emailed the governor’s office to ask about why its number of newly reported cases doesn’t match the other reported numbers on Sunday, but has not yet received a reply.

Sunday is the third day in a row in which more than 400 new cases were reported. Prior to Friday, it had been eight days since 400 or more cases were reported in a 24-hour period.

The Sunday press release stated there had been five more deaths from the virus reported. That number appears to be correct. According to the IDPH site, the total number of COVID-19 fatalities in the state is now 449.

Most of Iowa’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions ordered by Gov. Kim Reynolds since March 17 are set to expire after Wednesday, May 27. The governor has said she intends to allow bars to reopen in the coming week, and will lift other restrictions. She did not specify which other restrictions, saying the matter remains under review.

Among the restrictions set to expire on May 27 are prohibitions on utility disconnections, evictions and foreclosures. The Iowa Utility Board anticipates the governor allowing disconnections to resume, and has announced it will carry on with disconnections starting on May 28. Likewise, sheriff’s offices around the state are expecting the prohibition on evictions and foreclosures to be lifted.

On May 18, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement it was ready to resume its work assisting landlords and banks with evictions and foreclosures.

Operating under the assumption that Governor Reynolds will not be extending her emergency proclamations halting most foreclosure sales and evictions, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office is planning to resume these court-ordered processes on Wednesday, May 27th.

The office said it would “ensure social distancing” by holding its foreclosure sales outdoors.

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