Aug 20, 2020
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds Press Conference Transcript August 20: Derecho Recovery
Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa held a press conference on August 20. She discussed coronavirus and derecho response. Read her full update briefing here.
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Governor Kim Reynolds: (04:16)
Okay. Well, good morning. I think we’ll go ahead and get started. I want to start off this morning with a storm recovery update. Restoring power continues to be a priority, and a lot of progress has been made, but there’s still quite a bit of work left to do.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (04:31)
MidAmerican Energy has restored almost a hundred percent of storm damaged outages in their service area and has even deployed crews to support Alliant Energy recovery efforts in Linn County and elsewhere. We sincerely appreciate MidAmerican stepping up to assist outside of their service area. In Linn County, Alliant is reporting nearly 83% of their customers have had power restored. They restored 3,800 in Cedar Rapids alone in the last 24 hours. So they’re making some really good progress, but we still have work to do. We still have about 16,000 customers that are without power in Linn County.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (05:14)
So this is, as I indicated earlier, it’s far from over and we continue to get updates from Alliant throughout the day. They’re working on dividing the city into quadrants. So we can just have a better understanding of where some of the really tough areas are, and so we can help get necessary supplies to individuals that are still without power. So they’re working to identify where the most impacted areas are and how we can most efficiently and effectively respond and help Iowans who are still suffering from loss of power.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (05:49)
The Iowa National Guard has continued to work with Alliant in Linn County to remove debris so that crews can get in to make the electrical repairs. They have been encountering a situation where new debris that has been … They’re eliminating the debris, and then new debris has been put back into those areas that have been cleared. So we want to get the message out to people that when the Iowa National Guard or Alliant have cleared the debris in your area, please don’t refill it with new debris until the power has been restored to you and your neighbors.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (06:26)
So I know everybody is working diligently to get things cleaned up, but if we got them coming through, they’re really trying to clear the areas so that Alliant can come in some of these really tough areas and get the power restored. So we’re asking you to work with us for just a little bit on that. The Iowa National Guard reports that they’ve cleared 327 city blocks of debris so far and have 11 crews continuing to work in Linn County.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (06:53)
So just as a reminder too, in storm impacted areas, 211 continues to be a resource for connecting services and answering questions and just a heartfelt thank you to the outstanding team at 211 for everything that they’re doing to help Iowans.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (07:10)
We also want people to know that there are multiple teams in the area from Homeland Security and Emergency Management, to FEMA, to Red Cross who are photographing damage to homes as part of the Iowa individual assistance process. Some homeowners have expressed concerns because they’re not familiar with who the vehicles are or the people that are doing that. So if this is happening in your neighborhood, just ask them to identify themselves and tell you about what they’re doing to help.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (07:46)
Around the state, and especially in Linn County, there has been significant damage to schools. I had the opportunity to tour Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, where I met with the superintendent Noreen Bush, to not only assess the damage, but to discuss it and the impact that would have on this school year. In Cedar Rapids, 20 of their 31 buildings have damage, and they’re not alone. The Department of Education has surveyed superintendents, and so far there are 14 school districts reporting damage.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (08:20)
On Friday, we’ll be updating our existing disaster proclamation to accommodate the needs of those schools as they begin the ’20/’21 school year. The proclamation will permit those districts who school buildings have been damaged by the derecho to move to primarily remote learning while they repair their buildings and for students and teachers to return safely. If districts conclude that the damage to their district prevents starting, even remote learning, that they may apply to the Department of Education for a limited time instructional waivers. So we’ll continue to work with those communities that have been impacted, superintendents, and Director Lebo and the Department of Education.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (09:07)
So, as we all know, another major challenge for schools as they start this school year is COVID-19 and the school year and the pandemic mean Iowa schools will need to be flexible in dealing with the rapidly changing face of COVID-19 in our communities. At this time next week, most Iowa schools will be back. The team at the Department of Education and the Department of Public Health continue to work with school districts to answer questions, help them with layered mitigation strategies and other approaches to safely and responsibly reopen schools.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (09:46)
It’s going to require a significant amount of collaboration and engagement at the local and state levels so we can be prepared to keep students learning while keeping teachers, staff, students, and family safe. There just is no one size fits all approach to reopening schools, but we’re here to work with school districts to find the one that works for them.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (10:10)
Today, I am joined by Art Sathoff, the Superintendent from Indianola Community Schools. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Indianola district, it serves about 3,500 students in grades pre-K through 12 in four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. As you may have heard, Irving Elementary, Indianola’s year round elementary school, had a positive case of COVID-19 recently, and that required some quick action by school officials, and I wanted to have Art join us today to share a little about his school’s experience. Art.
Art Sathoff: (10:48)
Thank you for the opportunity to speak for a few minutes today, Governor Reynolds, I appreciate it. I’ll focus my comments on our response to the positive COVID-19 test we had, as well as a little bit about …
Art Sathoff: (11:03)
The positive COVID-19 test we had, as well as a little bit about our hybrid learning plan that we have in place. Irving Principal, Derek Morris heard the morning of August 8th, that was a Saturday morning, that we had a report of a positive case. And he was immediately in touch with me and also collaborating with Warren County Public Health Services. Warren County Public Health provided support and communication, and in contact tracing. Although when it comes to schools, really it’s the district staff who are going to be best equipped to do the contact tracing and track the movements of the person who tested positive. We needed to determine who had been in direct contact with the person who had tested positive. We were able to do that through our contact tracing. Direct contact is defined as being within six feet of the impacted person for at least 15 minutes.
Art Sathoff: (11:54)
Through contact tracing we determined that a large majority of students in one first grade classroom had been in direct contact. So the district made the decision to have that classroom go to remote instruction and be quarantined for two weeks. Principal Morris had that communication out to parents by early Saturday afternoon. And he also worked with other school departments like facilities and transportation and childcare. During this quarantine period, the classroom teacher has been able to deliver remote instruction to that classroom. We’ve been receiving very good feedback on how that’s been going. And we anticipate a pretty seamless move back to onsite learning for those students when the quarantine period is up. That period is up in the next couple of days here during some previously scheduled staff development. So we’ll be welcoming those students back next Tuesday, assuming that they aren’t having symptoms or haven’t had further exposure.
Art Sathoff: (12:53)
I do want to note too, now we’ve had a couple of weeks since that first positive test and we’re having no future problem or no further problems or reports of positives to this point. Our teachers and staff are working very hard at this time, and we really appreciate too the great support we’re getting from our community. Really a lot of appreciation for our planning and response efforts, and that’s encouraging to people who are doing that work too. Our teachers and administrators, and IT staff have worked extremely hard to build capacity, to be able to deliver quality remote instruction. And while 87% of our Irving Elementary families were ready to come back face to face August 4th, we also want to serve our remote learners well too. We have a hybrid model that expects our face to face learners will be engaged remotely as well. And for the last couple of years at the high school, we’ve had a cohort of teachers, a couple of dozen teachers taking classes to become certified online educators and writing their own aligned, rigorous coursework. We also have had all of our middle school staff trained in blended and flipped instruction. And last spring, when we went to voluntary remote instruction, teachers took rapid transition to online learning training and our tech integration coach Allie Soder has worked individually with elementary teachers to create class pages within the power school learning management system.
Art Sathoff: (14:22)
So staff is well prepared to provide remote instruction to families who originally signed up for it. As well as to those students who may have to quarantine. Our district’s hybrid learning plan allows teachers 90 minutes a day to connect with remote learners and to plan and deliver remote instruction, both synchronously and asynchronously. And that’s accomplished through a 90 minute early release for onsite learners each day. And they also have access to the remote materials for their compulsory learning. I am, as I said earlier, really thankful for our supportive community and our school board. I can’t say enough good things about our staff in all roles, support staff, instructional, staff, and administration. We’re working very hard as a team to handle the challenges, to keep people safe and to provide quality instruction and care for our students. Thank you,
Governor Kim Reynolds: (15:21)
Art, thank you for sharing your experience. I think it’s helpful to educators all over the state and administrators as they prepare to reopen in the next couple of weeks. One of the earliest and the most persistent concerns that we’ve heard also from schools, was the critical need for PPE. And to assist, we’ve been working at the state level to ensure that we have adequate supply for schools. And now I’d like to introduce Jake Nicholson, who is the response division administrator of Homeland Security, Emergency and Management, to discuss the preparation and work that his team has been doing on behalf of PPE and getting that distributed to our schools. Jake, thank you.
Jake Nicholson: (16:10)
Thank you, Governor.
Jake Nicholson: (16:12)
Earlier this month, Governor Reynolds announced that the state’s supply of personal protective equipment or PPE and other supplies would be made available to school districts across the state to assist them with bringing our state’s pre-K through 12 students back into the classroom. As part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Iowa department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management coordinated with the Iowa Department of Education to distribute a survey to all public school districts across the state, in order to identify those districts’ needs for a 30 day supply of PPE and other supplies.
Jake Nicholson: (16:45)
277 school districts responded to the survey. And as a result are receiving State PPE and supplies, including 2,500 no touch thermometers, 110,000 face shields, 650,000 face masks both cloth and disposable, 3,600 gallons of hand sanitizer, 1,600 gallons of bleach, 4,100 gallons of liquid disinfectant and 86,000 packages of pre moistened sanitizing wipes, totalling 4.3 million wipes. In partnership with County emergency management agencies across the State, as well as with the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Department of Transportation, the State Emergency Operations Center has coordinated and arranged deliveries of PPE and other supplies to individual counties across the State.
Jake Nicholson: (17:35)
These supplies can then be picked up by the school districts in each County. Delivery of PPE and supplies began Thursday, August 13th. Deliveries are scheduled to be completed today, with the exception of a handful of Iowa counties impacted by last week’s storm. My agency has worked with those counties heavily impacted by last week’s storm to ensure their supplies are provided, when they are ready and able to receive them. In total, the State of Iowa is providing 11 semi-loads of supplies and materials to our schools. While this special push of supplies and PPE was designed to assist our state schools in bringing our students back to the classroom, the State Emergency Operation Center continues to be activated in support of the COVID-19 response. And stands ready to provide additional assistance as needed. Thank you.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (18:25)
Thank you Jake. And honestly, thank you for the work that you do and Director Flynn and your entire team, you have been doing an incredible job throughout the pandemic. And to Rachel, and all of the other disasters Joyce, that we’ve encountered over the past couple of years. And we also have the Iowa National Guard and the Department of Transportation that’s helping deliver those school supplies as well. So it really is a great coordinated effort to make sure that schools have the equipment that they need to come back safely and responsibly.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (18:58)
I also want to just take a moment to again, mention a change in the testing criteria from the State Hygienic Lab. Because this is also an important component to make sure that school districts feel comfortable in bringing the schools, the teachers, the staff, and their families, keeping them safe. As we return back to school. The State Hygienic Lab recently updated the testing guidance so that K-12 students and staff members can be tested at their local healthcare facility. So that has also been made available across the State. And that change should be helpful, especially as we move towards school starting.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (19:37)
So at this point, I think we’ll move to an overall update on COVID-19. From August 1st through yesterday, more than 108,600 Iowans were tested. Nearly 99,400 of those tested were negative. And 7,524 were positive, for a positivity rate of 6.9% so far this month. 44% of those positive cases continue to be among adults age 18 to 40. And while younger people are most likely at low risk for illness, they are highly likely to spread it to others. And that’s why virus activity among the college age and young adult populations continue to be a concern.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (20:28)
Over the last several weeks we’ve seen a gradual increase in hospitalization rates and longterm care facility outbreaks, for a variety of reasons. Some of that has to do with the disaster, to Rachel. Some of it has to do with the increase in elective procedures. Some of that has to do with just individuals that have put off going to the doctor and addressing some of those concerns. And we continue to monitor that very, very closely.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (20:56)
So taking a step back and just remembering that even if you aren’t sick, if you aren’t acting responsibly, you could be spreading COVID-19. For the kids that are back in school, not just to your roommates or your classmates, but to those individuals that are out and are congregating. You also are potentially spreading that to coworkers, parents, grandparents, and others with health conditions that make COVID-19 more serious for them. So again, we just ask that you please consider the consequences of your actions, especially if you work in a healthcare setting, a longterm care facility or a school. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been committed to providing accurate and timely data related to virus activity across the State. And it’s been a work in progress over time. We’ve improved the quality and the quantity of data that’s available to Iowans. We’ve updated the website several times to ensure that Iowans have the information that they need to make.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (22:03)
… Times to ensure that Iowans have the information that they need to make responsible decisions for their health, their families, and their communities. The credibility and the accuracy of our data is a top priority and when a discrepancy is identified, either by our team or by everyday Iowans, we’ve worked quickly to resolve the issue.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (22:23)
This week, we addressed a reporting issue and yesterday we implemented a fix to resolve it. The reporting issue occurred due to an effort to avoid duplicating test results for individuals who tested multiple times and as a result, an individuals’ most recent test result, whether positive or negative, was unintentionally attributed to the date of their first test result. We have now adjusted the case reporting to reflect the most recent lab reporting date rather than the date of the first test result.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (22:59)
So adjusting the test dates pushes some test results forward in time, because it was going back to the original, which resulted in some minimal changes to the 14 day positivity rates by counties.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (23:11)
Because more than 90% of all tests over time have been negative, most positivity rates will reflect a slight decrease with the change in the way that we’re reporting it. The states all-time average positivity rate stayed the same, at 9.4%. 79 of the counties will see a net decrease in their current 14 day positivity rate and the remaining counties will see, on average, a less than 1% increase in their current 14 day positivity rate.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (23:48)
Additionally, we will now be reporting the lab collection date rather than the result date and this will give us the most accurate reporting of the earliest date possible that an individual was positive for the virus. So that’d be really helpful for the EPI team when they’re doing the contact tracing and case investigation. It is this change that caused the total number of cases reported today to appear lower than normal.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (24:17)
So on the website this morning, we reported a total number of 557 individuals tested and that number was actually, if we just talk about the tests that went through the labs, was actually 6,563 and the website will be updated later today to reflect this information.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (24:35)
So going forward, we will continue to report all new cases within the last 24 hours and assign each individual case to the date of the lab collection.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (24:48)
So why did this happen? We have encountered, throughout the whole pandemic, some limitations in the state’s existing health reporting system. We’ve able to manage those limitations but I think it really does underscore the critical need to upgrade the states IT infrastructure. It is something that I have been passionate about. It is something that has been a priority of mine since being elected Governor and I think this is just another indication of how important it is to really take a look at that IT infrastructure and get it updated.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (25:24)
So I do want to thank Iowans who use the data that we provide, who dig into it and raise questions when they have them. We continue to encourage that. It helps us constantly improve the data and the transparency that we’re striving to provide Iowans through the pandemic. So with that, we’ll go ahead and open it up for questions.
Speaker 1: (25:46)
Governor, why did you roll out that new positivity data and encourage school leaders to look at that when you already were aware that there were problems with the data?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (25:56)
So I became aware of it last week and as I said, we were able to identify what the cause was and so the data overall really had minimal change to it. So we were able to, when you take a look at 90% of Iowans, approximately 90% of Iowans tested are negative and then a smaller percentage is positive and it impacted both negative and positive. So as we were working to correct the logic, so that it would be reported accurately to Iowans, as they walked through that process, there was minimal change to the counties that would be impacted.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (26:37)
The bottom line is too, it didn’t impact the contact tracing and the case investigation that takes place with the Iowa Department of Public Health, their team, and the local public health officials. So that was already taking place. That didn’t change. The overall numbers didn’t change. They were the same. The overall average positivity rate didn’t change. It was the same.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (27:04)
What it did do is actually because of the high percentage of negatives that we see on a daily basis, it actually did for, I think 79 of the counties, it actually took the positivity rate down a little bit and with the remaining, we saw some increase but less than 1%. It was a minimal change.
Speaker 1: (27:24)
But Doctor Pedati said that she was aware of it at the end of July.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (27:30)
Well, I became aware of it. Doctor Pedati, do you want to address that?
Doctor Pedati: (27:35)
Yeah, that’s right. At the end of July, we were aware that there was an issue with a date that was being assigned to individuals who had repeat multiple tests. And again, I know that this is hard, but as we move through this response, we continue to look at our processes, our tools, and the information we have available and so it does mean that we have to make adjustments. It means that we have to be flexible and we want to incorporate new information and adjustments as we move along.
Doctor Pedati: (28:06)
So, I know that it’s not ideal when things continue to change but we do that in an effort to make sure that we’re giving people as much information as we possibly can, as quickly as we can.
Speaker 1: (28:19)
Governor, how can people trust the data. I mean, that’s the biggest thing that we’re…
Speaker 1: (28:23)
Speaker 1: (28:28)
… the question we’re receiving at our station is how can we trust the data the state is putting out if they knew about this issue almost a month ago?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (28:37)
Governor Kim Reynolds: (28:37)
Governor Kim Reynolds: (28:43)
… we have worked very hard to provide transparency, to provide real time data…
Governor Kim Reynolds: (28:53)
Governor Kim Reynolds: (28:53)
… from Iowans on things that they…
Governor Kim Reynolds: (29:00)
Governor Kim Reynolds: (29:00)
… the system DOMO and the system that we’re able to utilize on the website. We are able to address some of the issues that is attributed to an older system. But I think, as you look at the data…
Governor Kim Reynolds: (29:17)
Governor Kim Reynolds: (29:25)
… and that’s not unique to Iowa either. Other states have dealt with some antiquated systems as well and have had to respond to that. We’re transparent. It’s real time. We’ve given Iowans the opportunity. They can go back and look at it. They have the opportunity to reach out and question some of the things that they might not understand on the website and we’ve been able to respond to those.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (29:54)
Doctor Pedati, do you have anything to add to that?
Doctor Pedati: (29:58)
No, again, I think I would emphasize that the electronic recording systems for public health are systems that we know have needed improvements for years. This was something we recognized long before COVID and it’s something that isn’t unique to Iowa. I was on a conversation with a [inaudible 00:30:18] colleague yesterday who reminded me that in 1994, electronic records were being received by dial-up modem. We’ve come a long way since then, but we still have improvements to make. And I know that it is frustrating when adjustments have to be made, but we provide real time data to the public and to anybody who visits our website, which I think is unique. I’m not aware of any other state that does that. And we do that because we think it’s so important that everybody can see what we can see. So that does mean that when we find issues, we’re going to recognize them, we’re going to share them and work through them with everybody. And again, that’s because we believe it’s so important to share the information we have.
Doctor Pedati: (31:02)
So we know that we’re going to have to make adjustments we haven’t before, and we’ll continue to do that in the future.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (31:10)
And I don’t think there is probably any of you or any of the agencies that you work for, that hasn’t done an IT update that hasn’t experienced some glitches throughout that process. It’s part of it.
Speaker 2: (31:22)
Governor, if the system is part of the issue, I guess I’m curious, what’s being done or what can be done to avoid other problems that occur because of it?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (31:29)
Well, we are constantly looking at that. And that’s one of the reason that when we brought DOMO in, that really did give us the opportunity through the logic and through the technology that they provide, through the data platform that they have in place and the amount of daily data that they’re able to collect. And so that allows us to really provide Iowans with real time data on our website.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (31:52)
We will be using some of the CARES funding to address technology at the state of Iowa. We’ve talked about Workday through the state of Iowa. All of our systems are antiquated, and we’re not able to really aggregate the data in a responsible manner. And by updating our systems and doing a better job with technology and technology infrastructure, we’ll be able to better serve Iowans in a more efficient and effective manner. So it’s been a priority of mine for a long time, whether I’ve been at the local level as a County Treasurer, or as a state legislator, or as Lieutenant Governor, all of our systems, we are way behind where we need to be when it comes to IT infrastructure and the world that we live in today, that’s just not acceptable and you cannot be efficient and effective in serving Iowans with the infrastructure that we have in place.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (32:46)
And so we’ll use some of the CARES funding for that. We’ll continue to look at how we can address it. Department of Revenue is looking at a system upgrade. So we are having agencies that are making this a priority. We’re working with public health to do the same.
Female Press Members: (33:00)
Governor, if there have been discrepancies and if you’ve known about…
Jake Nicholson: (33:03)
Female Press Members: (33:03)
Female Press Members: (33:03)
Governor, if there have been discrepancies, and if you’ve known about the glitch in the system since late July, I mean, why did it take until now when news reports show that there is a discrepancy in the numbers for you to acknowledge it and fix it?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (33:14)
So they have been working on it, I found out last week. Dr. Pedati, do you have anything to add to that?
Doctor Pedati: (33:21)
Yeah, we have been working on it. Again, this is an example of a place where we’re constantly looking at our data, at our processes, at the tools that are available to us. In addition to addressing the concern around date that affects, again, the patient reportedly you have multiple tests. We were also able to incorporate updates in accordance with federal guidance on counting individuals who had repeat positive tests. So the CDC guidance that came out around the end of July also talks about doing those repeat positives.
Doctor Pedati: (33:56)
And it’s been 90 days, so that’s another update that we’ve been able to implement. And we’re continuing to use, again, our tools and the resources we have to help make adjustments as we find new issues, or if we get new federal guidance, or new tools or resources that we want to incorporate. So that’s going to be an ongoing process. It’s something that we look at all the time. And again, we fully recognize that there are improvements that can be made and we’re going to continue to do that. And it is something that we prioritize with the funding that we receive from our federal partners.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (34:32)
Female Press Members: (34:32)
Governor, if I could ask-
Governor Kim Reynolds: (34:33)
And I forgot too about the CDC changes within that too. So Dr. Pedati, thank you for also bringing that up. So again even things we’re asked to report and the changes in how we do it from the federal level are constantly changing too. Okay?
Jake Nicholson: (34:45)
I have a question too.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (34:45)
And then I’ll come back. Yeah. Okay.
Jake Nicholson: (34:47)
Governor Kim Reynolds: (34:49)
Female Press Members: (34:49)
If I could go back to the August 10th storm, you mentioned that you’re now mapping debris fields to better address the people who still don’t have power. I’m wondering why those maps didn’t exist before. I mean, the faster management is about making preparation and drawing those maps in advance. I don’t know. I guess-
Governor Kim Reynolds: (35:11)
So, okay. What they’re really trying to do is right now they are on the job, they’re on the ground, they’re working diligently. And the number one priority is to get the consumers’ power back on. And now we’re down to some really difficult areas that is just significant damage. And so what we want to do, because our goal was to have 90% by the end of day on Tuesday. And we were able for the larger part to get that, but not in Cedar Rapids and Linn County.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (35:39)
And so as we continue to work through that, to help continue to get people’s power back up and going, we wanted to identify where some of the hardest hit areas are at, how we can get the resources there, what we need so I can also help with planning from the Iowa National Guard. So a lot of the maps are there. We’re starting to overlay them so we can better understand what’s left, which homes.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (36:07)
And Cedar Rapids people on the ground that are going through the neighborhoods to identify which homes are just destroyed. And so then we can get that information back to the Alliant team and help to really understand the numbers that are left and what we need to do to get them back online. I don’t know, [Jerry 00:36:29], am I missing? Is there anything else we need to say? I mean, we’re just looking for anything that we can do to help accomplish the number one priority and that’s to get people powered up. And where can we really get the resources to where they need to do, and make sure we’re taking care of people that are still left there so that we can reach the goal of getting everybody’s power back on.
Jake Nicholson: (36:53)
So if I may, two questions real quickly.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (36:53)
Jake Nicholson: (36:55)
One on that. And then one of the coronavirus testing.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (36:56)
Jake Nicholson: (36:56)
On that, do you know how quickly we might get the individual systems portion approved? I’m assuming that process is moving along.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (37:04)
[Sarah’s 00:37:04] standing up. So I am literally waiting for her to do that. I have talked to Pete [Gamer 00:37:09] this morning, we’ve talked to the White House. It has left FEMA. It is now at the White House. The President is in, I think, he’s speaking with reporters in the Oval Office. And as soon as he gets done with that, it will be signed. So it’s at the White House, so by end of day, hopefully even before lunch, we should have a sign off on that.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (37:29)
So I was hoping I could announce it at the press conference. I’m sort of announcing it at the press conference, but we’ll get the final sign off here in just a little bit. And that’s really important because that’ll really help with some of the other waivers that we’re applying for, whether that’s the disaster SNAP, and just help Iowans, that have been just so severely impacted, know that some of the things that aren’t covered by insurance, they now will be able to file that through the individual assistance.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (37:58)
So again, I want to take just a moment to give a shout out to Homeland Security Emergency Management, and their team, and FEMA, who we have a rep embedded here. They really have worked around the clock and took advantage of technology again, to really expedite that process. And so I appreciate their efforts in helping us get that done in a timely manner. The other question?
Jake Nicholson: (38:25)
On the coronavirus testing.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (38:26)
Jake Nicholson: (38:26)
I just wanted to ask you a quick question.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (38:27)
Jake Nicholson: (38:28)
if it’s possible that the state could release the entire dataset, obviously anonymize it so that we don’t recognize individuals, but I think there are some people calling for that so that they could actually see the numbers themselves and the entire dataset. Is that even a possibility?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (38:42)
I think, in a sense, if you’re talking about numbers, we do. We showed the number… No? I’m looking at Pedati.
Jake Nicholson: (38:49)
I think the dataset that’s on the line.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (38:50)
The number tested and then we show the number with those duplicates taken out, so that we show the number… Like I have been tested probably 10 times, there’s over a hundred thousand that have been tested more than twice. So they know some of those numbers. And so I think we show that on the website right now. And it’s accounted for, if I’m understanding your question.
Jake Nicholson: (39:11)
I think the entire dataset would be numbers that would underlie what you’re reporting, that the entire dataset of numbers that the state would have come in, without identifying individuals obviously. I don’t know if Dr. Pedati could [crosstalk 00:39:24]-
Governor Kim Reynolds: (39:23)
Doctor Pedati: (39:26)
Yeah. So what we record on our public facing webpage is cases by an individual person.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (39:33)
Doctor Pedati: (39:33)
Because we want to understand how many Iowans are affected. Who they are, how old they are, what their gender, race, ethnicity, that sort of thing. I think if your question is getting a total tab, that’s definitely something that we’re working on and can look at sharing. And again, you’re absolutely right. We always want to be cognizant of the fact that we receive confidential public health records. And we do take that seriously. We have seen federal law that we follow to makes sure that we take appropriate care to not identify individuals, but we really do want to make sure that we’re sharing as much as we possibly can in real time, as quickly as we can.
Jake Nicholson: (40:12)
Sorry. I have one more question. Ron’s on the phone and trying to call in.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (40:12)
Jake Nicholson: (40:16)
Governor, I heard, I saw a tweet from a reporter at Iowa Falls, who mentioned that people should be digging into this data to help the state improve any issues. This reporter in Iowa Falls, I believe it was, was emailing the Department Of Health for weeks she says, was not getting any response from Amy McCoy, frequently. This is an issue.
Jake Nicholson: (40:40)
The Capital Dispatch had something where they had a list of times they had emailed Amy McCoy to try to get info and got no response. And I’ve had the issue too.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (40:48)
Jake Nicholson: (40:49)
Do you believe not responding to emails is fostering transparency at all?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (40:54)
No, that would not be my expectation. I don’t know these specific cases, but we are in the middle of a pandemic, and they are dealing with the derecho, and doing the best that they can to respond. But I would be more than happy to sit down with the team. And we have, Director Garcia is now the acting director for the Department Of Public Health. So they’re doing some realignment within the agencies as well.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (41:16)
But yeah, that’s not my expectation. We are assessable. And we want to get back to those that have questions in a timely manner. And so if that’s not happening, then we’ll do everything we can to bump that out. But I know they… I mean, that’s what they want to do too. But I’ll take the concern to the department, and we’ll take a look at it, and get you some answers and respect to the individual. So I’m not familiar with who they are, but I’m certain… We’ll log it, so we’ll be able to take a look at that and we’ll be happy to do that.
Jake Nicholson: (41:47)
Rod, go ahead.
Jake Nicholson: (41:52)
Thank you, Governor. Iowa Attorney General, Tom Miller, requested to join a lawsuit challenging changes at the US Postal Service. My understanding is that you did not consent to that. Can you explain what your objection was-
Governor Kim Reynolds: (42:07)
Jake Nicholson: (42:08)
… that you believe the Postal Service is in a position to handle the volume of absentee ballots in Iowa in a timely manner this November?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (42:17)
Yeah. Well, first of all, I support absentee ballot voting. I think that’s a great option for Iowans, and I think there’s a lot of Iowans that take advantage of that. I just don’t think it’s productive right now or in the state’s best interest to sue The Post Office. I think it’s important that Congress get back to Washington DC and do their job. I know that’s part of the next package that they’re talking about. The Post Office has had a flawed business model for years. This isn’t something new that they’ve been dealing with or that they’ll be able to fix overnight.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (42:47)
But I believe, talking to our United States senators, and the White House, and Congress, I know Congresswoman, Speaker Pelosi has indicated the same thing, that they’re willing to work with The Post Office to help provide them what they need to do to get the job done. So it’s not going to be fixed overnight. This isn’t a new problem. I mean, for years, previous administration had actually tried to shut down several rural post offices. So, I mean, this is an issue that’s been ongoing for quite some time. And I mean, how timely is a lawsuit? So I think there’s other things that we can do that are more productive to address the situation. And that starts with Congress sitting around the table, having a conversation, and figuring out what they can do to serve the constituents that they represent. Thank you.