Nov 17, 2020
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Press Conference Transcript November 17: Mask Mandate
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference on November 17. She discussed a new mask mandate that has been put in place. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Speaker 1: (04:35)
… we didn’t hear anything about it, so I’m not sure if it was all Governors or not.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (05:18)
So, good morning. Last night, I took the opportunity to speak directly to Iowans about the difficult reality our state is facing as COVID-19 cases continue to surge, hospitalization rates rise at a record pace, and our healthcare system has pushed closer to its capacity. Of course, we’re not alone in this struggle. The United States report more than 1 million new cases just last week, and while each state is taking steps to reverse the course of the virus, the solutions for Iowa must address our highest priority needs and continue to balance the lives and livelihoods of Iowans. Over the last two weeks, hospitalizations have climbed daily and at times the increases have been significant. On November 1st, 718 Iowans with COVID-19 were in the hospital. Yesterday, the number more than doubled to 1,510.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (06:14)
We’ve also seen the percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 increase rapidly as well. At the start of the month, 14% of Iowans in the hospital had the virus. And today, it’s 28%. evidence shows that about 5% of Iowans with COVID-19 require hospitalization, and for those individuals, that occurs about eight to 10 days after the onset of their symptoms. So as cases continuing to increase, we can project that hospitalizations will continue to keep pace. In late October, new daily hospitalizations were just approaching the 100 mark. And now, as I said, just a few weeks later, they top 200 a day. And of course we all know that that’s not sustainable. If our healthcare system exceeds capacity, it’s not just COVID-19 we’ll be fighting, every Iowan who needs medical care could be put at risk.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (07:08)
So as I stated last night, if an ambulance is transferring a COVID-19 patient, it can’t respond to an accident on a rural county road. If hospital beds are full, a loved one who suffers a heart attack or stroke may have to be transported miles away to receive lifesaving treatment. And an early cancer diagnosis could be missed because of a routine procedure had to be postponed, turning what would have been a treatable disease into a terminal diagnosis. That could be what we’re facing if we don’t act now. And that’s why I announced last night additional mitigation measures that are in effect today. The measures are targeted toward activities and environments where they have the potential to make a significant impact in a relatively short amount of time. And they’re necessary if we want to do everything we can to keep our businesses open, our kids in school, and our health care system stable.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (08:01)
Now through December 10th, when you’re indoor a public space and unable to social distance for about 15 minutes or longer, masks are required to be worn. The same requirements apply to visitors and employees inside state buildings, and as I said last night, I strongly encourage other businesses to follow this lead. Indoor social, community, business, and leisure gatherings or events will be limited to 15 people. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 30, and this includes wedding and funeral receptions, family gatherings, and conventions. This does not restrict gatherings that occur in the workplace as part of normal daily business or government operations. All organized youth and adult sports activities of any size are suspended. While high school sports and extracurricular activities are not prohibited at this time, spectators at games or events are limited to two per student and are required to wear a mask. Restaurants and bars are required to close at 10:00 PM and cannot host private gatherings of more than 15 people. Masks must be worn by staff who have direct contact with customers and customers must wear a mask when they are not seated at their table.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (09:17)
And in addition to that, inpatient elective procedures will be reduced by 50%. All of the measures that I just talked about that are in the health disaster proclamation will be reassessed in a week and additional measures could be added based on what we continue to see with hospital capacity and what the trends look like. So, as I said last night, I know this isn’t where we wanted to be nearly nine months into the pandemic. I know that we can overcome it, but now is the time to come together for the greater good, to do every thing we can for each other, and not really because you’re told to do it, because it’s the right thing to do. So again, I’m just reminding and asking all Iowans to step up and help us stop the spread of this virus together.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (10:06)
This morning, I also wanted to provide a prison update. Last week I mentioned that outbreaks in some of the state’s correctional facilities were contributing to high positivity rates and case growth in some counties. Today, I want to provide a brief update on those, and again, just the impressive effort that the department of corrections has made to manage the situation. On October 28th, the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in the inmate population at the Anamosa State Penitentiary and testing began among all inmates and staff. By November 4th, 982 tests were conducted with nearly 500 positive results returned. Follow-up testing of those who were negative was done on November 10th, which yielded nearly 250 more positive cases. A final round of followup testing is being done today-
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (11:02)
A final round of follow-up testing is being done today. Of the 742 total positive cases, 64% have moved to recovered status at this time. After experiencing an outbreak in September, new cases were once again identified at the Clarinda Correctional Facility in late October. Mass testing of the population was conducted. And to date, 547 total positive cases have been identified, and 79% are now recovered.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (11:34)
The North Central Correctional Facility identified its first case on November 2nd, mass testing occurred during the following two days, and follow up testing occurred on November 11th. Generating a total of 370 positive cases, of which 67 have moved to recovered status. I want to take this opportunity to commend Director Skinner and her entire team for their quick action to manage these outbreaks, from coordinating mass testing with the State Hygienic Lab, which I also need to commend on their effort to turn these around in a quick manner, to making adjustments to staffing when their workforce was impacted. The Department of Corrections has done an incredible job of handling this very challenging situation.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (12:22)
Despite the rising number of cases and hospitalizations, there is hope that a vaccine is coming sooner rather than later, and that new therapeutics can offer a fast and full recovery for more people. In the last week, we’ve heard good news about two promising vaccines that have proven to be more than 90% effective in early trials. Drugmakers, Pfizer, and Moderna, plan to apply within the next few weeks for FDA Emergency Authorization to begin vaccinating the public.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (12:54)
Meanwhile, other new therapeutics are also coming to market. Iowa will be receiving more than 2000 doses of the new monoclonal antibody therapy for the treatment of COVID-19. The therapeutic is targeted for adults aged 65 and over or with certain medical conditions, and children over the age of 12 who are immunocompromised. The drug is administered in outpatient settings, and is not authorized for individuals already hospitalized or requiring oxygen therapy. Public health is distributing doses to interested hospitals based on the recent hospitalization rates.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (13:37)
And finally, I want to take this opportunity to highlight another important therapy for COVID-19 patients that’s currently in short supply, but easy to replenish with the help of Iowans who have had the virus. Convalescent plasma therapy takes antibody-rich plasma from the blood of recovered COVID-19 patients, and gives it to people currently hospitalized due to the virus, to help boost their ability to fight it. Convalescent plasma is being used as an experimental treatment for COVID-19, and has proven to have positive results for many patients.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (14:14)
So here to share more information about this type of therapy is Christine Hayes, chief operating officer of LifeServe, and Sue Kasperbaue who received the treatment earlier this year. Christine, thanks for joining us today to help inform Iowans about this important therapy and how they may be able to help ensure its availability for those who need it.
Christine Hayes: (14:34)
Thank you, Governor Reynolds. We certainly appreciate the opportunity to discuss a convalescent plasma as well as the blood supply for the state of Iowa in general. As you mentioned, convalescent plasma has been one of the leading treatments for a patient suffering from COVID-19. What we’re seeing right now, though, is as the patient demand is skyrocketing so is the need for convalescent plasma. In fact, in the past two weeks, more than 900 units of convalescent plasma have been transfused to patients here locally in Iowa. The downside of that is that amount is more than the first four months of the pandemic. So the need for convalescent plasma is certainly outpacing the demand.
Christine Hayes: (15:24)
It’s really easy to be a convalescent plasma blood donor. In fact, through a very unique and one of a kind partnership with the State of Iowa’s Public Health Department, every blood donation through LifeServe Blood Center as a regular blood donor is receiving an antibody test for COVID-19. Individuals that are positive for the antibody, which means they were previously infected with COVID-19 but are now healthy enough to be a blood donor. The plasma portion from that blood donation is being able to be treated for a patient. Right now, we’re seeing about 25% of our convalescent plasma has been provided through that unique antibody testing program.
Christine Hayes: (16:08)
The other avenue for convalescent plasma donations are individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 and now are eligible to be a very unique and special convalescent plasma donor. That one donation can yield four transfusible doses for a convalescent plasma patient to use. Right now, we are anticipating at the current rate of transfusions across the State of Iowa that our supply of convalescent plasma will be depleted by December 1st.
Christine Hayes: (16:42)
Unfortunately, this is absolutely the same case across other states in the country. So our ability to receive more convalescent plasma from other blood centers across the country will be very challenging. We are all of our Iowans to come and be a convalescent plasma blood donor. It’s very important to know that only a volunteer blood donor is able to provide convalescent plasma that is transfusible to a hospital patient. Paid plasma centers are important and are needed for pharmaceutical generation, but its transfusible Convalescent plasma must come from a volunteer blood donor.
Christine Hayes: (17:24)
I would love to tell you that the need for convalescent plasma is simply a metro issue for the State of Iowa. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Our top three hospitals that have transfused the most convalescent plasma are located in Mason City, and Sioux city, and Waterloo, Des Moines obviously is there. But through a program with the government, we have been able to provide those small regional hospitals in places like Pella, and Clarinda, and Manning, Iowa, to have convalescent plasma available to treat their patients.
Christine Hayes: (18:02)
So we’re certainly thankful for the State of Iowa’s partnership in antibody testing, it is helping to generate more convalescent plasma units for transfusion. And we are very appreciative of this message. Because, again, our predictive modeling is showing that by the early part of December, December one, we will not have enough convalescent plasma to meet the needs of our patients here in Iowa. It’s very easy to be a convalescent plasma. In fact, Susan Kasperbauer is with us today, and she has a fantastic story to hear about her way of giving back following her fight with COVID-19.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (18:44)
So who should they contact if they want information on how they can volunteer and be a part of this?
Christine Hayes: (18:49)
It’s very easy to be a blood donor, you can find all available information at liveservebloodcenters.org. You can actually visit with a team of individuals if you have had COVID-19 in the past, and you want to schedule your convalescent plasma blood donation. If you are also someone who thinks you had COVID-19, you had the symptoms but never received a positive test results, or you never received a diagnosis from a physician, you can participate in the convalescent plasma program, again, by visiting us at our website, and we’ll provide an antibody tests.
Christine Hayes: (19:27)
And then just generally, all of our blood donors today are receiving that antibody tests, again, as a partnership with our state public health department. What’s important to note that while convalescent plasma is absolutely critical right now to treating COVID-19 patients, we have to keep in mind that while elective surgeries may be minimized right now, we every day have cancer patients going through their treatment, needing blood products, we’ve accident patients in trauma that’s needing blood products. So being a regular blood donor helps not only the other patients in need of blood, but it absolutely can potentially help a COVID-19 patients as well.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (20:11)
Thank you. I appreciate that. I also… I’m pleased to welcome Sue who I met in October when I visited LifeServe with the U.S HH Secretary, Azar, to learn more about the therapy. As you heard, Sue received convalescent plasma earlier this year when she was hospitalized for COVID 19, and now she’s a donor. So it’s good to see you again Sue. Susan, thank you for joining us. And I’ll turn it over to you.
Susan Kasperbauer: (20:35)
Thank you for having me today. I’m glad to be here to tell my story about how I received the plasma, but also how I donate as well, and a little bit about how it worked. I had COVID at the end of June and ended up in the hospital. And when I got there, they told my family that it could go either way, depending on how I reacted to the treatment plan. And so the first night, they started me on a lot of medications. And when it was available, they gave me convalescent plasma from a LifeServe blood donor.
Susan Kasperbauer: (21:12)
I remember telling my nurse that I felt so much better afterwards. My body woke up again after 10 days of being in a lot of pain. For me, the convalescent plasma really seemed to be what turned things around. And thankfully, the treatment plan helps, and I started to get better. I spent 10 more days at the hospital with the most amazing hospital staff taking care of me.
Susan Kasperbauer: (21:38)
And then when I could finally breathe well enough without using oxygen, I went home to finish recovering there. During all of this times, I had time to really think about the fact that a person that I don’t even know took time out of their life to donate convalescent plasma and help save my life. I got to go home and be with my family because a stranger donated their plasma and…
Susan Kasperbauer: (22:03)
A family, because a stranger donated their plasma and I’m still thankful to that person. When I was at home and I was able to, I started donating plasma at LifeServe Blood Center. And each time I do it, I’m helping up to four other patients survive COVID too. If you’ve had the virus, you have convalescent plasma and donating plasma is something you can do to help all of us get through all of this. Even if you had a mild case, your body’s still producing antibodies. And if you don’t know for sure that you have antibodies, LifeServe tests for you so you’ll know.
Susan Kasperbauer: (22:36)
Now, I know like Christine mentioned, you’ve probably heard of places where they pay you for your plasma and they use your donation for medical research, which is great, but if you want your donation to go directly to a patient in your community, then go to your local blood center to do it. You don’t get paid for it, but you get to help save somebody’s life. And it’s right now one of the only treatment options available for COVID and obviously the need for the donations is going to continue to increase as the cases go up and the people in the hospital increased.
Susan Kasperbauer: (23:10)
When I first donated, I was super nervous about it because I had never donated plasma and I’ve heard people talk about it, but I had never experienced it. I’m going to tell you how it works. Basically you call and they’ll ask you some questions about your medical history to make sure that you qualify and then you’ll set an appointment. When you get there, they’ll do a couple of tests, like take your temperature, blood pressure, do a finger poke to check for your blood and then they start the process. I think it’s mostly like when you go to the doctor and they draw blood, it doesn’t hurt except for the first pinch. And then once the needle is inserted, they cover it. And you just sit there and hang out and scroll on your phone and squeeze a little stress ball while it’s happening.
Susan Kasperbauer: (23:56)
You really don’t know that anything is happening while it’s happening. The machine takes your blood, it removes the plasma and then it gives you back your red blood cells and platelets. After it’s done, I fell totally normal. I’m able to get up, walk right out and continue on my day. I just feel good about being able to give back to the community when I do it. At the time that I was in the hospital, I was one of only a 165 other COVID patients in the entire state of Iowa. And so plasma was available to me at the time. But now some days there’s 165 new patients a day. Obviously more people are going to need to be donating.
Susan Kasperbauer: (24:39)
Right now a lot of us feel like there’s just not much you can do to help besides wearing masks and staying home. But if you have COVID, this is something you can do. Call LifeServe and schedule a donation. It takes an hour out of your time and you are going to help four people walk out of the hospital.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (24:59)
Oh, thank you, Sue. That’s an inspiring story. It was when I heard it at LifeServe. I think I went up to you right afterwards and said, this is such a great story that Iowans need to hear. I hope you’ll consider coming on and sharing it. I really appreciate you taking the time today to showcase the need and how you really can help save lives by participating in the program. Thanks a lot. And again, for more information about donating, go to LifeServeBloodCenter.org. And with that, we will open it up for questions.
Governor, for nearly nine months, you said you trust Iowans to do the right thing.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (25:35)
You said mask mandates were not enforceable.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (25:37)
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (25:38)
Yeah, well, because we’re continuing to see, I’ve said from the very beginning that our goals was to make sure that we protected the health and wellbeing of Iowans, especially our most vulnerable and that we do everything we can to make sure that we maintain our healthcare system and our healthcare resources. And as we’ve seen over the last 10 days, we have seen exponentially the number of hospitalizations increase. And we’ve seen, as hospitals work throughout the state and within their region and implement surge plans and address the uptick in the number of individuals being hospitalized, we’re at a critical component, where at this point, if we don’t change the trend, flatten the curve and help address the number of individuals that are being hospitalized, we run the risk of really stressing, over extending over capacity to our hospitals.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (26:31)
And we want to make sure, Kate, that we not only take care of those with COVID, but as I indicated in my remarks and last night, we need to make sure that we have capacity to treat individuals that have a heart attack or a stroke. Or if we have an ice storm, we have a pile up on 235 that we have sufficient workforce to be able to address their needs as well. And I also said last night, there’s probably not enough law enforcement to make sure that every individual is doing the right thing and it is hard to enforce.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (27:00)
And so in addition to that, I still am asking Iowans to help do the right thing, to implement personal responsibility, to work together, to help us get through it. And if we double down right now, as we head into winter and we do simple things that we’ve been talking about from the beginning, I believe that we will change the trend and we will help alleviate some of the pressure on our hospitals. And so I’m just imploring Iowans to help us do that in communities all across the state.
Speaker 2: (27:32)
Governor, with the numbers have been increasing for weeks now, as you acknowledged, all the way back to October, you’re now making a push to hire more contact tracers. Is this closing the barn door after the horse has gone out?
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (27:45)
No. I think you’ve seen a lot of governors. This is happening in every state across the country. And I think you’ve seen over the last week, additional governors step up and look at additional mitigation efforts that they can put in place. What we’ve been really fortunate about is we actually did, we were able to somewhat open up earlier, rather than later. We were able to play ball this summer. We were able to get our kids back in school. We were really able for the most part to keep most of our businesses open and operating. And so a lot of states didn’t have that opportunity. They continued to be shut down throughout the entire eight to nine months.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (28:20)
We had a little bit of a reprise. And because of that, I think maybe we got a little relaxed and as we see the weather change and as we start to go indoors, and as we take a look, as David brought up the other day, COVID fatigue, we’re seeing our numbers increase again, as it really does move into the Midwest. And so I’ve said all along, we’re going to dial up and we’re going to dial back depending on where our numbers are at. Right now, we are really stressing our hospitals and their capacity. And so we have to dial up and we have to adjust accordingly and we’ll continue to watch that.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (28:54)
And if we need to do more, we will continue to dial it up and put in additional mitigation efforts. But I’m hoping, my goal is to do everything we can to bend the curve, to reduce the number of hospitalizations, continue to keep our businesses open, do everything we can to keep our kids in school while maintaining our healthcare resources.
Speaker 3: (29:16)
Governor, some people are confused about your mask mandate in that about the six feet within 15 minutes-\\.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (29:23)
Speaker 3: (29:23)
Because you’re saying all indoor public places, but then there’s this caveat, if, well, if you’re a social distancing indoors and you’re not within 15, or you’re not within six feet for 15 minutes-
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (29:35)
Speaker 3: (29:35)
You’re fine. Where did you get that 15 minute numbers-
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (29:38)
Speaker 3: (29:38)
Since it’s not the CDC guidelines and what is the message to Iowans who are confused? When should they be wearing masks?
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (29:45)
Well, if they’re confused, I’d say just put the mask on. But what we’re saying is if you’re in close contact, less than six feet, which is the social distance requirements, and that’s a timeline. If you have prolonged personal interaction with an individual that’s more than 15 minutes, then you are required to wear a mask. If you’re running in and you’re not coming in contact, you can social distance, then you don’t need to wear one. And again, Iowans will be responsible if you have doubt or you’re not sure, I would say, wear a mask, err on the side of caution. If you really want to help do the right thing, then that’s what you can do to make sure that you’re protecting, not only yourself, but others as well.
Speaker 4: (30:29)
For airborne transmission and also again too-
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (30:32)
Will the social distancing work?
Speaker 4: (30:32)
Why just have any of that limit in there at all?
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (30:34)
DO the masks work? We are, I’m saying if you can’t social distance and you’re not in front of somebody for more than 15 minutes, then you’re fine. If that’s not the case, then you need to wear a mask. And that’s where we’re at right now. I don’t think you need to wear a mask if you’re outdoors and you’re not, there’s nobody around and you’re going for a walk. I don’t think when you’re driving in the car and you’re by yourself, you need to wear a mask. You need to be thinking about if you’re indoors where we know that the potential to spread is increased. And if you’re going to be in close proximity for a prolonged period of time, over 15 minutes, then you’re required to wear a mask.
Speaker 5: (31:09)
Governor, we’re getting a lot of questions from-
Declaration, of course we’ll have some people who wanted it to go away further.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (31:14)
You have some people that think it’s gone way too far.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (31:16)
For you personally, when it comes to masks-
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (31:19)
Because there haven’t been a lot of studies on this-
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (31:24)
As we are-
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (31:25)
In part of a new virus here, how effective do you personally believe masks are, both you and your health advisers? How well or not well do these things work?
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (31:38)
Well, I think they’re effective. I think it’s part of the mitigation, layered mitigation strategies that we can put in place. I think it all works together. It’s not one thing as a silver bullet. And I’ve said that all along, Dave. You should stay home when you’re sick, you should wash your hands often, you should wear a mask. You need to wear it appropriately. I see a lot of people that aren’t wearing their mask appropriately. Remember it needs to cover your nose and your mouth and you’re supposed to avoid touching it as much as you can, I know that’s hard to do.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (32:01)
And you also need to social distance when you can. We also, right now, as the weather turns cold, we know that indoor gatherings and social events is where we’re seeing a lot of spread because you tend to let your guard down. These are friends that you hang out with or family members. Now they’re exposed to a different group of people, but you come together and it’s people that you know, so you tend to be a little bit more relaxed and you tend to let your guard down. And what we’re seeing, is in that case, we’re seeing people that are asymptomatic are exposing their friends.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (32:29)
And so we’re seeing the case numbers continue to rise. And so that’s why we ratcheted down a little bit more the number of indoor gatherings, the number of outdoor gatherings. It’s why we … I said, if you can’t social distance, because that’s really important too. And if you’re going to be in close proximity with an individual for more than 15 minutes, you wear a mask. You need to wear a mask. It’s part of our mitigation efforts. And if we all don’t step up and do what we need to do to help manage the virus, it’s going to get worse. And we’re just seeing that. And there’s also, you look at other states that have had a mass mandate for months and they’re seeing their-
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (33:03)
You look at other States that have had a mass mandate for months, and they’re seeing their cases continue to rise. Whether it’s Illinois, Wisconsin, or our Minnesota, it is just spreading. And it’s really in the Midwest. We’re actually seeing it across the country. So again, these are all layered mitigation efforts that we can utilize, together, to help drive the trend down, reduce the number of cases. With the ultimate goal of keeping our businesses open so we’re not back down to what we were experiencing in the spring, where we see skyrocketing, unemployment, where we see livelihoods being destroyed. And I am going to continually say that if everyone will kind of continue to step up and do their part, which we’re just going to have to do, if they do that, we can get through it. And especially as we see new therapeutics coming in and we see vaccines being available.
Speaker 6: (33:51)
Does a mask mandate include schools and if not why?
Speaker 7: (33:54)
[crosstalk 00:33:54] our reason-
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (33:55)
Speaker 7: (33:55)
That last part, you said about how it is spreading in places where they do have the mandate. That is what some people point to about, “Well, then what’s the point of doing this?” Can you point to something that you know of scientifically, medically, whatever, that shows these things work?
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (34:09)
There’s science on both sides and you know that. If you look, you can find whatever you want to support wherever you’re at. And so what I’m saying is let’s do everything we can. Everybody needs to step up and help us stop the spread. And these are some things that you can do. And they’re really relatively simple. And if we do them now and really buckle down and double down, hopefully, when we get to Christmas, we’ll be able to gather again with our families. And hopefully we’ll be able to keep our businesses open and we want to get our kids back in school.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (34:35)
Our kids need to be in school. That’s, I think we know all of the reasons why that that’s important. And so let’s think about what we can do to help maintain that. And it’s just, I can’t monitor what everybody is doing. So I need people to really think about supporting your neighbor and doing it, not only for yourself, but for a loved one, for a family member, for Iowans, so that we can put this behind us and move forward.
Speaker 8: (35:01)
Governor, we’re getting a lot of questions from parents wondering if there might be, speaking of education, another statewide school shut down. Many are concerned that if there is an order like that. That’s completely off the table right now?
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (35:13)
Yeah. Well, we’re going to look at everything and I’ve said that all along. So, but I believe we, we all believe that that is where we need to have our kids. We’re not seeing a lot of transmission from students in the classroom. And so we’ve given flexibility to the schools. They have a waiver, I think since school has started, we haven’t seen one waiver that’s been denied. So a lot of the reason for the waivers has been educators are out or they have to social distance because they’ve been exposed. Some kids, too. So a lot of that has happened outside of the school, not inside the school. And that’s been kind of consistent with we’re seeing with a lot of even just workforce and businesses.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (35:50)
So I think with the mitigation efforts that we have in place, and they’re doing a great job, they’re doing the things that they need to do to make sure that everything’s sanitized. Most of our schools are wearing masks because they found that with the new rules that really helps with lessen the interruptions of kids stepping out to quarantine for 14 days, if everybody’s wearing a mask. And the good news is we continue to collect data on what schools are experiencing, what they’re seeing, and that will help form decisions as we move forward. But our goal, my goal, is to do everything we can to keep our kids in school. And if parents and if Iowans help step up and really do those things we talk about, then I think that we’ll be able To do that.
Speaker 9: (36:36)
Governor, I know you said that there’s an increase in school districts using masks, but especially if you believe that they’re effective, why don’t you also include schools and classrooms under your mask mandate, especially when we’re seeing a rise in school districts going virtual?
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (36:52)
Well, we’re not seeing again, this spread between the students in the classroom. I think the majority are. So they have the flexibility to do that. I think most of the schools are, and you’re going to adjust as they see the numbers within their community and within their buildings. Some are closing a building, some are closing, they’re going virtually for a week until they can get their educators or their staff through the quarantine period or through the point where they can come back to school. So, right now we’re going to stay where we’re at with that. And we’ll take a look at it moving forward. And if we have to make adjustments, we will.
Speaker 10: (37:27)
Governor, you had part of your proclamation was the cancellation of-
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (37:31)
There you are.
Speaker 10: (37:32)
… youth sports events. Do you have contact tracing data that says that those kinds of gatherings and events have been spreaders in the last weeks and months?
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (37:41)
So, I think we’ve really tried to just narrow it and high school kids, we’ve got people that are recruiting. They’re putting the layered mitigation efforts in place. And it’s something that can be a little bit more controlled than the youth sports. And so it’s a suspension for 30 days. And actually I’ve got grandkids that were impacted by this that would love to continue to play. But right now, even as different areas are seeing the positivity rate increase, we see a lot of the schools canceling the tournaments.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (38:13)
And so, that’s another thing that we want to make sure that kids have access to because I think it’s important for their overall health. But right now, until we can get these numbers down, that was an area where I thought we could suspend for 30 days and really start to have that be part of the mitigation efforts, because we can’t, it’s harder to control as it is with the high school sports.
Speaker 3: (38:33)
Governor, just a few minutes ago what did you mean when you said there’s science on both sides? All the infectious disease experts out there are saying, there’s evidence now that the mask protects people around you and the wearer as well. That they should be used everywhere in public, especially when transmission is this prevalent. What did you mean when you said that?
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (38:52)
Yeah. Well, I issued, we’re utilizing a mask. I’ve encouraged to do it. I think if you talk to different people, there are different studies on both. So, we’re going to this, I’m going to continue to look at all of the mitigation efforts and we’re going to move forward with what I think will have an impact on bringing the numbers down.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (39:17)
But I do think there’s there’s data out there on both. They are effective. I’m not saying they’re not. It’s part of the layered mitigation efforts that we put in place. I’m encouraging people to use them, especially if you can’t social distance. And I’ve said that from the very beginning, I’ve said, if you can’t social distance wear a mask. So I’ve been very consistent in what I’ve said with that.
Speaker 3: (39:35)
But doesn’t that-
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (39:36)
I think, do you have a…
Speaker 3: (39:38)
… Broader mixed message [crosstalk 00:00:39:40], Governor?
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (39:41)
No, it doesn’t.
Speaker 11: (39:41)
My question was answered.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (39:42)
Speaker 12: (39:42)
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (39:44)
Nope. It doesn’t.
Speaker 3: (39:45)
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (39:45)
Speaker 3: (39:47)
But, Iowans who don’t believe in masks and you’re say they’re effective, but then there could be some data showing that they aren’t. If someone really doesn’t believe in masks, how is that going to convey to them that they really should wear it at this time?
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (40:02)
Yeah, some… Listen, people need to step up and take personal responsibility. And I’ve said, if you can’t social distance and you’re going to be in a prolonged interaction with an individual for more than 15 minutes, then you’re required to wear a mask. That’s what’s in the proclamation. That’s the expectation. So I’m asking Iowans again, it’s not where we want to be, but we need everybody to step up and do the right thing. And if they do that, we will get through this and we will all accomplish the goals that we’re looking at. And that’s keeping our businesses open, keeping our kids in school.
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (40:34)
And most importantly, we need to make sure that our hospitals have the capacity to treat not only individuals with COVID, but individuals that have other health issues. And so that is a focus. We’re seeing that capacity be threatened. And so it’s really important right now that we do everything we can to help protect it. Thank you.
There have been vaccines approved. Are you updating the state plan for distribution?
Gov. Kim Reynolds: (40:59)
We’re ready to go. Kelly, do you have anything to add to that? I mean, yeah, I don’t really.
Yes, we are in the process of updating it. We’re still missing, Kay, a few key pieces of information for a formal update and public release.
Speaker 13: (41:12)
Okay, thanks everyone.