Sep 16, 2020

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Press Conference Transcript September 16

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Press Conference Transcript September 16
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsIowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Press Conference Transcript September 16

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference on September 16. She discussed coronavirus updates for the state. Read the transcript of the briefing here.

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Governor Reynolds: (06:25)
Okay, good morning. We’ll go ahead and start off today with another quick update on the numbers. Since September 1st through yesterday, more than 108,600 Iowans have been tested for COVID-19. More than 99,000 tested negative and 9,300 tested positive, for a statewide average positivity rate of 8.6%. 48% of those new cases were among adults 18 to 40; 24% were middle-aged adults, 41 to 60; 13% were older adults, age 61 to 80; 12% were children up to 17 years old; and 3% were among elderly adults over the age of 80.

Governor Reynolds: (07:11)
Of Iowa’s 99 counties, 72 counties had a 14-day average positivity rate that is stable or decreasing. 74 counties had a 14-day positivity rate that was less than 10%. 30 counties had a 14-day positivity rate of less than 6%. Of the six counties where bars were closed on August 27th as an additional mitigation measure to slow the spread of the virus among young adults, Dallas County’s 14-day positivity rate is decreasing, Black Hawk, Polk, Linn, and Story counties are stable, and Johnson County’s 14-day positivity rate is beginning to stabilize.

Governor Reynolds: (07:52)
We’re making progress, and of course we need to stay the course of mitigation and containment as a state, as communities across our state and as individuals. I continue to say this, until there’s a vaccine we need to learn to manage COVID-19 within the course of our everyday lives, which includes work school and social activities. We need to continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask when inside and you’re unable to social distance, wash your hands often, and if you’re ill, stay home.

Governor Reynolds: (08:24)
Yesterday, I announced that I’ve signed a new public health emergency proclamation adjusting our mitigation efforts. The proclamation is effective today at 5:00 PM and it permits bars that have been closed in Black Hawk, Dallas, Linn, and Polk counties to re-open. It also removes the restrictions on hours that alcohol may be sold in restaurants, and it clarifies our social distancing requirements in all bars and restaurants throughout the state to ensure that all patrons are seated at properly space tables when consuming food or beverages. This has worked well for restaurants that remained in these counties and it will now apply to all open restaurants and bars. The proclamation continues to keep the bars closed in Johnson and Story counties through September 20th. We will continue to re-evaluate those numbers on a daily basis, as we always have done. Young adults are still the primary driver of new COVID-19 cases, especially in those two counties.

Governor Reynolds: (09:28)
We’re also continuing our enforcement component of adhering to the state health declaration. We have a speedier due process through the alcohol beverage division for existing bars and restaurants that don’t follow the health declaration requirements. I want to thank local enforcement around the state who are helping enforce the order in communities as well.

Governor Reynolds: (09:54)
As I think most of you here in central Iowa, we’re following, the Des Moines School Board met last night to determine a course of action following a court decision that reaffirmed the details of our Return To Learn plan. The board’s action last night was disappointing. While the board voted four to three to prepare to implement a hybrid-learning model, there’s no clear sense of how or when that might happen. Only the district will determine when conditions are safe to do so using a set of metrics that appear to be designed to ensure that they don’t come back for in-person learning. To be clear, Des Moines Public School is no closer to compliance with state law than they were before last night’s vote, which is, I think, unfortunate for the students.

Governor Reynolds: (10:43)
When De Moines Public Schools submitted their Return To Learn plan to the state on July 1st, they presented a hybrid plan that was close to being compliant with state law. But instead of working with the department of education to get into compliance, the district went backwards. As I’ve mentioned before, I mentioned this last week, 326 of Iowa’s 327 school districts have figured out a way to develop a strong Return To Learn plan that complied with state law. Those districts have been focused on getting kids safely and responsibly back to school, really not looking for ways to avoid that. As we see every day, those districts are making it work.

Governor Reynolds: (11:29)
There are things that need to be done differently because we are in a pandemic, but they’re showing us that if you have a will and that they have a will and are finding a way, which is what I hope to see coming from the Des Moines School District as well.

Governor Reynolds: (11:44)
Waivers have been granted to three school districts to move to online, remote learning due to public health conditions in their communities. I’m pleased that it sounds like maybe Ames will be moving into a hybrid model when their current waiver expires and Iowa City, whose waiver was extended another two weeks-

Governor Reynolds: (12:03)
And Iowa City, whose waiver was extended another two weeks, is planning for a possible return to a hybrid learning model even before the end of their extension as long as public health conditions continue to improve and we’re seeing that trend. Even here in the metro area, West Des Moines Elementary School, which requested a waiver after staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 had exposed other staff. They have withdrew their request. Instead of moving the school to remote learning for two weeks, they found a way to move temporarily online this week and which will allow them and then return full time next week while remaining in compliance with the 50% in person learning requirements. Again, I think where there’s a will, there’s a way. Earlier this week, a number of parents held a press conference to advocate on behalf of the district’s most vulnerable students, minorities, as well as those with disabilities and behavioral health issues.

Governor Reynolds: (13:01)
They strongly encouraged the school board to move ahead swiftly to get students back in the classroom. After all, as the state’s largest school district, Des Moines Public School faces some of the biggest challenges, but they also face some of the biggest consequences for further inaction. My message to the parents of Des Moines is that we’ll continue fighting for you to get the kids back in the classroom again, safely and responsibly, but now is the time for your voices to be heard. And so I would encourage you to continue to do so. Every court in which our return to learn guidelines have been challenged has sided with the state, yet the Des Moines School Board continues to slow walk compliance weeks into the school year at the expense of its 32,000 students. And it’s just unacceptable. It’s hard to believe that it was just six months ago when our biggest challenge in slowing the spread of COVID-19 was ramping up and up testing.

Governor Reynolds: (14:06)
In the early days, as you all know, there were limited number of tests available and the reagents to process them and states all across the country were competing to get access to them. From the start, our priority was to develop a longterm testing strategy that would ensure Iowans would have access to test when and where they needed them. The first step was to establish a partnership that could deliver a reliable, sustainable source of testing supplies. And we found that and much more in Test Iowa. The second was to ensure lab capabilities and capacity were ready to meet the impending demand. While other states contracted with regional or national labs, we opted, and it was a great decision, to work with the State Hygienic Lab at the University of Iowa that is headed by Dr. Mike [Pentella 00:16:27]. And that has proven to be another extremely valuable partnership in our fight against COVID-19.

Governor Reynolds: (15:07)
The State Hygienic Lab wasn’t widely known before COVID-19, but Dr. Pentella and his team have risen to this challenge and have earned the appreciation and the respect of our entire state. Currently, the State Hygienic Lab processes 42% of COVID-19 tests in Iowa. Much more, and I mean much, much more than any other State Hygienic Labs across the state, and much more than any other lab serving our state. In addition to extra lab space at the State Hygienic Lab dedicated to COVID-19 testing, the launch of Test Iowa enabled significant technology and process improvements and increased lab productivity by 30%. And over the last several weeks, the State Hygienic Lab has been preparing to even further increase its capacity for the Test Iowa program and PCR diagnostic test. As testing options evolve, including the potential of a multiplex test, the State Hygienic Lab is monitoring how it can continue to adapt to this changing environment. I’d now like to introduce Dr. Pentella to explain a little more about what they’re doing at the State Hygienic Lab. Dr. Pentella.

Dr. Mike Pentella: (16:27)
Thank you, Governor Reynolds. I really appreciate this opportunity to share what’s happening at the State Hygienic Lab to meet the testing needs of Iowa. This pandemic is unprecedented and very demanding of laboratory resources as you had said. As a result of that, we’ve been facing many challenges and thanks to a very devoted staff, we’ve been able to meet the challenges and plan for future needs as well. I’m incredibly proud of the staff and their efforts to meet these needs. Back in January of 2020, our focus was on testing well water and conducting newborn screening, and the routine tests for public health laboratories do for foodborne diseases and other tests. Today, in addition to continuing that work, SHL offers PCR testing for COVID-19 diagnosis and for current infections and antibody testing to determine past infections. So SHL is performing on the average right now of about 5,000 COVID-19 tests per day, 2,000 molecular lab, and another 3,000 in our Test Iowa Laboratory.

Dr. Mike Pentella: (17:45)
So we’re fast approaching about 500,000 tests combined in those two laboratories since March of 2020. So in a record amount of time, we’ve transformed SHL into a high throughput laboratory to meet the needs of Iowans so that we can meet those turnaround time demands. Antigen testing is rapidly becoming available throughout the state. And this is a very good thing because the antigen tests are used for many situations while the PCR tests that we’re performing remains the gold standard to compare against. So to further expand PCR testing capacity, the Test Iowa Lab is adding two liquid handling instruments that will boost our capacity from 3,000 tests a day to 5,000 tests per day. Then in mid October, we’ll add another instrument called the Thermo Fisher amplitude, which has the capacity to perform 6,000 tests per day. So we’re moving from 2,000 tests in that lab area to 6,000 tests per day.

Dr. Mike Pentella: (18:59)
So we’re looking at the future with influenza and COVID-19 infections anticipated to occur this fall and winter to meet those combined testing needs. Of course, we’re not alone in this effort. We’ve been working very collaboratively statewide. We’ve worked with the clinical labs throughout the state and the Iowa State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab to increase capacity throughout the laboratory system to help Iowans. We’re very grateful for the ongoing support of Governor Reynolds, the Iowa Department of Public Health, the University of Iowa, and others. And we are committed to meeting the needs of the state. We’ll do all that we can to perform the testing necessary to control this pandemic and protect the health and lives of Iowans. Again, this effort would not be possible without the dedicated staff at the State Hygienic Lab. So thank you very much.

Governor Reynolds: (19:59)
Oh, thank you, Dr. Pentella. Thanks for your leadership and for all that you do. And again, please extend our thanks again to your entire team at the State Hygienic Lab. Early on as we were still working hard to secure testing supplies, we knew that it would be critical to prioritize testing for those most vulnerable to the virus, including residents of longterm care facilities. Even when supplies were limited, we worked closely with facilities to test symptomatic residents and staff and assist with surveillance testing of the entire facilities when outbreaks occurred and we remain committed to this approach. Last weeks, cold, rainy weather got a lot of people thinking about winter, which is something our Test Iowa team has also been thinking about now for a while. Plans are in motion to winterize the large drive-through sites that we have. Drive through sites make it possible for us to test a large number of people quickly and effectively each week.

Governor Reynolds: (20:58)
We’re looking for sites that will allow us to continue drive through testing throughout the winter. The DOT and the Iowa National Guard are working now with county emergency managers to identify alternate locations near current sites that we can make winter proof. And the goal is to have new sites secured in the next few weeks so that we stay ahead of the weather as much as possible. Clinic sites are also an important part of our longterm testing strategy. Clinic sites are partnerships between the state and local health care providers to increase access to testing in rural communities and/or some of our smaller towns. The state provides testing supplies and equipment and and processes it through the State Hygienic Lab and healthcare providers are responsible for operating the sites. Currently, we have 15 clinic sites across the state, and we’re working with regional health care providers to open additional sites in the coming weeks.

Governor Reynolds: (21:54)
If any healthcare providers are interested in opening a clinic site in your area, please contact my office and our team will be in touch with you. Test Iowa is also partnering with community colleges, colleges, and universities to provide testing supplies, equipment. Again, processing those through the State Hygienic Lab. Schools manage the testing program through their student health centers or in collaboration with local healthcare providers. Generally, testing is provided for students and staff who are symptomatic, or those who have been in close contact with a positive case. Currently, we have 19 schools that are enrolled in the program and we anticipate that number will continue to grow. Our ongoing commitment is to continue building and adapting a robust testing strategy to meet the needs of Iowans going forward. So with that, we’ll be happy to take your questions.

Kay: (22:51)
Governor, as you know, the Big 10 has said that it will start having games, but there are requirements. The host community has to have a certain positivity rate before that can happen. Are you confident that Johnson County and Iowa City can reach those goals since they have recently been having spikes in COVID cases?

Governor Reynolds: (23:14)
So I haven’t seen what those metrics look like, Kay. So I’ll take a look at that, but I do. As I indicated earlier in my remarks, we’re seeing the trends trend in the right direction. We’ll continue to manage, mitigate, and contain. I think that the universities, university presidents, the students, the Greek systems, I think understand the importance of really abiding by what those guidelines are because they can see now the impact that it has. I think they want to get the Big 10 up and going. And so I think if we can continue to work together with the same goal, we’ll meet that criteria. So I need to sit down and take a look at what that is, but I’m confident that we can get there and get that done.

Kay: (23:58)
Governor, if you’ve acknowledged that young adults are the primary driver of the new spikes in.

Kay: (24:03)
Young adults are the primary driver of the new spikes in cases recently, in that when you shut the bars down, that was the main source of the spike in these six counties. What makes you think that now reopening them that you’re going to not see the same spike in a few weeks? Shouldn’t you have maybe considered waiting a little longer? What went into that?

Governor Reynolds: (24:21)
Well, I have to balance all of that, Caroline. I can’t just look at one aspect of it. And so what we’re trying to do is, first of all, we want to educate. We want to give them a chance to do it right while we put stronger enforcement in place and that didn’t do what we had hoped that it would do. We needed to refine that procedure just a little bit too. So ultimately because of the tremendous spike that we saw in positive cases, and we were able to tell the age group that that really was driving that spike, we made the decision in the six most populated counties with the highest positivity rates amongst 18 to 24-year-olds with the contact tracing we were able to trace that back to congregate settings, a lot of that was happening with social activities and in the bars.

Governor Reynolds: (25:12)
And so I think now that we’ve seen the trends come down, they know that we’re serious about enforcement and following the guidelines on the emergency health declaration and we’ll continue to monitor the counties. But in addition to that, we streamlined the enforcement process. So we said due process now will happen within a week and it was taking several weeks. So again, we can go in, we can continue to educate, we can give them a warning and if they don’t do what they’re supposed to do, then we’ll take the next steps, which is fine, and to shut them down.

Governor Reynolds: (25:44)
So my goal is to, since we can do that in a more timely manner, we need to punish the bad actors and not the ones that are doing it right. I didn’t have the luxury of doing that with the spike in cases that we’ve seen. Since then we’ve worked on refining the process, we believe we can now do that moving forward and so like I do every day and every week we’ll continue to monitor those numbers. And if I have to adjust accordingly, then we will.

Kay: (26:08)
But isn’t that going to be harmful if you have to… I mean, talking about from the business perspective of potentially shutting them down again. Opening them, shutting them, opening and shutting them. I mean…

Governor Reynolds: (26:16)
Yeah. So guess what? You get to understand a little bit of what I get to deal with on a daily basis. I’m trying to thread that needle. I’m trying to protect the health and safety of Iowans. I’m trying to protect the livelihoods of Iowans. We’re trying to protect the impact of isolation. We’re trying to impact how we’ve seen tremendous increases in mental health and substance abuse. We’ve seen domestic abuse and child abuse numbers go down because we haven’t had eyes on the children. People have seen their entire livelihoods go away and so we’ve tried to, I’ve tried to with the team, take a balanced approach to strike a balance where we’re doing all of that, because there are… People are not getting preventive care because they’re afraid to go to a hospital and then we’re seeing significant outcomes because of that. And so we have to balance all of that and we’ll work with the businesses and so they know what the rules are. They know what the expectations are, then they can make a decision and if they decide not to be a part of the solution, there are consequences.

Speaker 8: (27:23)
Governor on the numbers, the positivity numbers you were talking about from this month, if I heard you, right I think the lowest percentage of the new positive cases would be with kids?

Governor Reynolds: (27:34)
Yes.

Speaker 8: (27:35)
If I heard you, right?

Governor Reynolds: (27:35)
Yep.

Speaker 8: (27:36)
Do you have any additional data that you’ve received so far that can show a breakdown? We’ve seen in some places, maybe it’s some of the early researches, maybe kids 10 plus are more likely than younger. Do you have anything kind of broken down statewide what we have?

Governor Reynolds: (27:53)
Dr. Pedati, do you know? I know sometimes we’re able to look at data. I don’t know for sure what’s all on the site. So I’ll let Dr. Pedati answer that question for you.

Dr. Pedati: (28:03)
So we do look at age in a more detailed way than the categories that are presented on our public facing web page. We do try and understand within those age groups patterns, like when there’s young adults, right, who are in social situations. We also look at our child population and our older adult population as well. So we do look at those numbers. We are keeping a close eye on them. Right now, again, I think that overall the age trends, it’s still indicative of primarily being driven by young adult populations. But again, I think I would say, if you think about this virus it’s a person to person virus. We live and interact in our communities with our family members, our friends, people of different ages, different demographics and so we recognize that it’s important when we see changes in one area that it could potentially affect other groups of people, whether that’s the very old, the very young.

Dr. Pedati: (29:04)
And so that’s why it continues to be really important that people follow the public health recommendations that we make. We want to encourage people to continue to do that. We know that’s hard. We know that’s been a challenge for many months now and we know when we look at this virus we’re going to see ups and downs. We’re going to see increases and decreases and again, our goal is to minimize the spread of virus, optimize the outcomes for people who are at highest risk, and really do everything we can to keep everybody as safe and healthy as possible.

David: (29:38)
Governor, can I ask you a question?

Governor Reynolds: (29:40)
Sure.

David: (29:42)
A couple of things about the Des Moines School District and school districts generally. So in the Des Moines district, have you decided what you’re going to do as far as their noncompliance? I mean…

Governor Reynolds: (29:49)
Well first of all, I don’t believe they’ve even submitted a waiver Anne’s over here. I’ll let her address some of that.

David: (29:54)
Okay. And then secondly, I just wanted to ask you about the 15% positivity rate. We’ve discussed that before a little bit and I think Dr. Pedati had said that it was set at that level in Iowa because we have some rural areas that could easily get to 15% with just a few positive cases. But you’re also applying that to a larger metropolitan, heavily densely populated area, like Des Moines and I can’t find anyone outside your administration that thinks that’s a safe level for a populous area. So I just wondered if you could maybe [crosstalk 00:00:30:22].

Governor Reynolds: (30:22)
Yep. So remember that’s just guidelines and that’s one criteria. And so I listed earlier where most of the different counties fell into. So that’s not the end all be all, but it’s something… it’s a guideline. It’s a place to start. Dr. Pedati, I might turn over to you in just a second to walk through some of that if you’re okay with that. I forget what was your first question.

David: (30:43)
Oh, the first one was just what will you do with the Des Moines district? The court case even said that could bankrupt them if you really do make them-

Governor Reynolds: (30:47)
Yeah. Okay, July 17th we released the guidance on the newly passed legislation requiring 50% in person instruction. July 17th. July 30th, this is September 16th, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Education released guidelines for when districts should request a waiver for less than 50% in person. On July 1st, if we back clear up to July 1st, the Des Moines Public School Superintendent Ahart indicated that they were going to do a hybrid model for K-8. It meant two days per week in school for high school that went one day a week. So that wasn’t in compliance with the new rules, but it was close and instead of working with the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health to figure out a way that we could get them there, they went backwards. So they’re not even where they were at on July 1st, they’ve gone backwards.

Governor Reynolds: (31:38)
So on July 30th, we listed the guidelines for the waiver and on July 31st, they announced that they were going to not start until September 8th and they were going to begin a hundred percent online. In addition to that, our schools have been shut down since March 15th, where we went to online learning and made a decision not to come back. At that point, it was voluntary. They weren’t taking attendance and they were trying to put in place to make sure that we had an online program and to make sure that we had the connectivity that we needed. That’s been since March 15th. Our kids have not really been… Well here anyway, participating in education for six months. Six months that they’ve had to figure out a way and again, I just want to go back to the fact that 326 out of 327 school districts have figured it out. A lot of these school districts have been in school for three weeks and what I love, I’m seeing they’re adapting, they’re learning.

Governor Reynolds: (32:44)
It’s like the West Des Moines thinking they were going to have to apply for a waiver. But the more that they looked at it and worked with the team at the Iowa Department of Public Health and Department of Education, they figured out a way to do it safely and responsibly. Every other school district in Polk County has figured out a way to do that. So it can be done and it’s just, I’ve laid out and I’ve laid out and I’ve laid out just the impact to some of these kids that are being left behind. And at some point, if we don’t get there, do they recover? Or are they just lost forever? And I know the school board, I know they’re working on it. I believe they want to do that, but let’s, We’ve got to get there and we can.

David: (33:25)
Could you compromise on the 15% though?

Governor Reynolds: (33:27)
I’m not the one that’s… We have. We’ve issued waivers that didn’t meet the 15, or they didn’t have the attendance. So we’re willing to work with them, but we’re willing to work with them too, David, to get them to compliance like, I want to say this again, 326 other school districts have figured out a way to do. And they’ve figured out a way to move in and out of that and still provide the education that our kids need. Our kids need it. It’s so much more than just academics and we know that. I don’t need to go through all of those. You know that.

Governor Reynolds: (33:57)
That press conference that they held yesterday, did you hear what those parents were saying? A lot of our refugee communities, they have parents that can’t speak English. And how are they supposed to help teach these kids? 25,000 kids are on a free and reduced lunch. 5,000 kids in this school district have an IEP. I mean, behavioral issues where they need those services at school, so we can do it. We have to do it. We have to do it.

Kate: (34:29)
[crosstalk 00:34:29] deadline for them to comply?

Governor Reynolds: (34:31)
Kate, I’ll come back.

Speaker 9: (34:33)
Governor Reynolds on a different note, why is no state agency requiring jails report the number of inmates who test positive for COVID-19? Is that number known? And if so, do you know that number offhand?

Governor Reynolds: (34:46)
What are you asking me?

Speaker 9: (34:48)
Why is no state agency requiring jails to report the number of inmates who test positive for COVID-19?

Governor Reynolds: (34:55)
I think that that is. I’m sure we can… Do you know, Dr. Pedati, If we have that number?

Dr. Pedati: (35:00)
Yeah. I don’t have that number in front of me, but we can absolutely follow up. We do every positive test in the state of Iowa is to be reported so we do collect that information.

Speaker 9: (35:12)
So does the state know that number right now?

Governor Reynolds: (35:15)
Yeah. We would know that, right? I mean, we’re collecting it. So we would be able to drill down and get that information. And it’s really critical when we move them through the various systems, and the intake and Director Skinner has done a great job of really putting in place mitigation efforts to manage and really address those individuals who are testing positive. Dr. Pedati, am I missing anything?

Dr. Pedati: (35:40)
No.

Governor Reynolds: (35:40)
Okay.

Speaker 9: (35:40)
Well, the corrections department does not know that and the Iowa Department of Public Health has declined to comment to it.

Kay: (35:47)
Well, Dr. Pedati just said we have that information. If you want to follow up with Pat, we’ll get that to you.

Speaker 9: (35:51)
Thank you.

Kay: (35:52)
We can get it. So we’ll be more than happy to provide that. Kate, back to what we were talking about. I think you had a question.

Kate: (35:57)
Are you setting a deadline for compliance to let parents know if what their children are

Kate: (36:03)
… To let parents know if what their children are taking now will count as credit?

Governor Reynolds: (36:07)
Do we have a timeline on that?

Speaker 10: (36:11)
So I think what we initiate now is our typical process when there’s concerns about compliance in regards to accreditation issues. And that will start the process with the department. We have a system in place where we contact the district, indicate the citations. They have opportunity to submit a plan for remediation. Depending on how that process goes forward, it could potentially go to our state board for a decision. So we’ll certainly keep you informed as we have information available on that process.

Kate: (36:39)
That has not started yet?

Speaker 10: (36:41)
We have not initiated that process yet. We were very hopeful to work with the district to find a solution. At this point, it seems that they are well into a plan that is out of compliance and will continue to do so. So we will have to initiate that process on our end.

Governor Reynolds: (37:01)
Do you want to talk about some of the meetings that you’ve had with the Des Moines school, and when it goes back to?

Speaker 10: (37:02)
Sure. We first reached out to Des Moines in July right away when we knew there was going to be a shift in what the expectation was. We had two additional meetings in August and another one in September. So we really tried to be proactive to help them find a way to find compliance. We’ve worked with other districts. We’ve tried to partner them with other districts. I think there continues to be a question on what the unique obstacle is that Des Moines is unable to overcome, that we are certainly willing to help them find solutions for. But there seems to be a challenge here that we will continue to be willing to work with them. But at this point, there is a compliance issue that we’ll have to take action on.

Speaker 8: (37:39)
Governor, it’s no disrespect to some of the terms that you all are using, but for people watching this, are you saying that if this doesn’t get resolved, it’s the superintendent and/or the board that faces potential problem? Because really at the end of the day, the parents want to know, are we kind of wasting our time going to school if we’re going to have to go an extra two weeks at the end of the year or whatever? Are you talking about more punishment for the administration and school board rather than make kids make up these days?

Governor Reynolds: (38:07)
The consequences are already in place. I mean, that’s been laid out from the beginning.

Speaker 10: (38:14)
So, there’s sort of two questions there, and the distinct difference between instructional time and credit for students. And I think that’s where we want to put something out in writing to help people understand the difference. We’re talking about an instructional time violation here for hours that will have to be completed within the school year. How students progress through that process might be a little different because they can still get credit. The challenge might be when we get to the end of the school year, depending on what that looks like, but we’ll certainly work with them on solutions. So they’re separate pieces. And again, I think we’d like to put something out in writing to make that really clear and help districts understand all that time that is lost has to be made up.

Speaker 10: (38:53)
So the more time that elapses, there’s more time that needs to be made up by June 30th. The actual timeframe for a school year is that you have to start no later than December. I think it’s the first week of December. And it has to be finished by June 30th. So that’s the timeframe we’re looking at. And you have to have that 1,080 hours or 180 days within that window. Our goal will be help them to find a plan to make that up. The longer that takes, the more challenging that will be for the district and their staff.

Speaker 8: (39:28)
But what if they can’t make it up? I mean, is there some ramification if they don’t? I mean, what happens?

Speaker 10: (39:28)
Yeah. So that’s what goes to the state board then, and that is part of the accreditation process. And we can, again, get you more information on just what that whole issue looks like, but this will be a state board matter depending on how it moves forward. Again, our goal is to help them get there. Our goal is to help them find compliance. Our goal is to help them get kids in the classroom and to learn and have the opportunities that they need. And we will continue to work with them on this, but there just continues to be some challenge here. And I’m concerned about how this is going to impact the families, the students, the educators, and everyone else involved.

Dr. Mike Pentella: (39:57)
We have time for two more questions.

Kay: (39:59)
Governor, some democratic state senators are asking to open an oversight review into a report that your office spent almost $450,000 of CARES Act money on salaries. I wanted to get you to respond to that. And also, you’ve been talking for months about transparency for every dollar spent through CARES Act, possibly putting up a website. What’s the status of that?

Governor Reynolds: (40:33)
I’ll check on that. I thought the website was up. I know that our local communities, our local governments are using that to submit their requests. So our goal is to make sure that that’s available to Iowans and to taxpayers. CARES funding can be used for salaries. That’s very clear in what allowable allocations are. The money that’s available to the state COVID response, you have to meet the certain criteria. And so the job requirements that are significantly changed due to COVID is one of those requirements. And I’ll give you an example, Kathy, why that 300,000 we believe is okay. When COVID hit on March 8th, I think is when we had our first three cases, I moved the entire team out to the State Emergency Operation Center because I felt like it was extremely important.

Governor Reynolds: (41:29)
And I think that was one of the reasons that we were able to respond to COVID in the manner that we did was to have everybody at the State Emergency Operation Center hearing and seeing the same information, communicating, collaborating, putting a system together. So that we would finally be able to know the number of vents, the number of beds, the number of hospitalizations, how we put those surge plans in place, how we work with our hospital systems so that we meet our first objective, which was to stabilize. Which was to protect the health and wellbeing of Iowans, especially those most vulnerable, make sure that we’re managing our healthcare resources so that we don’t overwhelm and really have significant impact on our healthcare systems, in order to flatten the curve and start to address COVID-19. So for my office, that meant half of us actually came out to COVID and worked seven days a week straight, probably nine to 10 hour days, on COVID-19. That’s all we did, for the most part.

Governor Reynolds: (42:31)
I mean, we had to continue to operate state government, but that’s where the majority of our focus was. Team Capitol, back at the Capitol, which was the other half of my team, actually moved upstairs and they were in full response to Iowans to answer questions, to get information out. And it took all of them working around the clock, similar timelines, to meet the needs of Iowans and answer the questions that they had during a very, very difficult, unprecedented time in our state. So I have absolutely no problem submitting the $300,000 for the additional expense in salaries in our office. And some of our staff are actually shared or they’re funded through other agencies. And I didn’t think that it was fair for them to pick it up when this is an expense that’s qualified.

Dr. Mike Pentella: (43:27)
Last question and then we’re out of time.

Speaker 11: (43:32)
Thank you, governor. A follow up [inaudible 00:43:34] question about the Big 10’s plan to resume football October 24. Like Iowa State, is that something you think could happen with fans in attendance or set up to UI officials? And also, do you anticipate bars now closed in Johnson County will be open back up by then? And if so, do you think special provisions will need to be in place on game day Saturdays to curb the spread of coronavirus?

Governor Reynolds: (44:01)
Well, the criteria is in place for the bars through September 20th. We reevaluate every day. We’ll reevaluate with the Epi Team and the Department of Public Health to see what their recommendations are going forward and what the trend line looks like. That is a decision that’s made by the University of Iowa and the regions. I really don’t have anything to do with that. Again, I think we can do these things in a safe and responsible manner. We just need to put the mitigation efforts in place. I’m talking about fans going to the game, but that’s a decision that they will make. I would be consistent in what I’ve been saying. If it’s half capacity or we just really think about how we do it, I think eventually that can be done. I think I answered all of your questions. Thank you. Thank you.