Aug 27, 2020
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds Press Conference Transcript August 27
Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa held a press conference on August 27. She announced the closure of bars in six counties. Read her full update briefing here.
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Governor Kim Reynolds: (09:01)
Okay. Well, good morning. I think we’ll go ahead and get started, and I want to start with a quick update on the derecho relief efforts. I was pleased to be joined by Small Business Administrator Carranza in Cedar Rapids this week to have the opportunity to meet with local businesses and community leaders to highlight some of the resources that the Small Business Administration is able to offer. The Lieutenant Governor and I also had the opportunity to tour Madrid, the Foddy family farm, and the Woodward Resource Center, again, to just view some of the damage and see and hear about the local efforts that were implemented in recovering from the derecho. I’m going at this point to ask Director Flinn from Homeland Security Emergency and Management to come up and give the latest information on our progress with FEMA and the disaster declarations. Joyce?
Joyce Flinn: (09:55)
Thank you, Governor. I’d like to start with giving you an update first on public assistance. This is the infrastructure for support to 16 counties that were declared by the president. This provides reimbursement to eligible applicants in the following categories of damage: debris removal, emergency protective measures, roads and bridges, water control facilities, buildings, utilities, and parks and recreational facilities. We are also gathering additional information to look at additional counties that can be added. Currently, we are doing assessments on eight additional counties for public assistance. Those are Greene, Grundy, Guthrie, Hardin, Iowa, Jackson, Keokuk, and Washington.
Joyce Flinn: (10:40)
The deadline to submit add on request to FEMA is September 16th, so we’re working toward that deadline. On the individual assistance side of FEMA programs, that is assistance to individuals and homeowners through the Individuals and Households Program. This includes housing assistance and other needs assistance. Of the 27 original counties requested, Linn County has been approved as you know. As relates to the remaining 26 counties, 9 have withdrawn based on their inability to meet the threshold of approximately five properties with major or destroyed damage that are uninsured or underinsured.
Joyce Flinn: (11:18)
The remaining 17 counties are in the assessment validation process. We requested those local assessments be submitted or additional data provided to our office by close of business yesterday, and my team is working with FEMA to ensure the validation can be completed quickly, and we’re hoping to have that done by the end of the week. We are starting to get data from FEMA on how many individuals have registered, and as of this morning, 5,143 registrations had occurred in Linn County, and an additional 258 in other counties. Residents in non-declared counties can call to register. This information is then transferred within the system if those counties become declared. To apply for assistance with FEMA, residents can do that online at disasterassistance.gov, or they can call (800) 621-3362 or TTY (800) 462-7585.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (12:25)
Thanks Joyce, and I especially want to thank you and your team for all of your great work throughout this. There’s been a lot of progress that’s been made in the last couple of weeks, and I know they’re diligently working to get the additional counties if they meet the criteria added to send to the White House to sign off on the individual assistance. I also want to just give a heartfelt thanks to the Iowa National Guard and the DOT. There’s been a tremendous amount of agency and nonprofit, private sector, individuals, volunteers that have stepped up to really assist Iowans throughout the derecho. National Guard and the DOT had multiple-
Governor Kim Reynolds: (13:02)
… and the DOT had multiple individuals on the ground, really helping clear debris and working with communities and Iowans across the state. And I just appreciate their efforts.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (13:11)
And I also just want to once again thank, as I indicated, all of those individuals who have stepped up to help and assure the folks in all those hard-hit areas that we’re going to continue working on this until we have had a complete and a full recovery.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (13:26)
I also wanted to mention, we’ve said this a couple times, but to make sure that our listeners know this, we’ve launched a new website, that is a one stop shop for Iowans looking for information related to the derecho, and it is disasterrecovery.iowa.gov. So hopefully that’ll be another resource for you to find information and help answer some of the questions that you may have.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (13:50)
So next, we want to cover a number of updates and announcements as related to COVID-19. Earlier this week, we announced an allocation of a hundred million dollars in [inaudible 00:14:02] funding to support Iowa farmers and our ag economy. Those funds are for a full range of programs to support our farmers, our livestock producers, renewable fuel manufacturers, small meat processors, produce growers, and beginning farmers. And so just a special thanks to IDALS and Iowa Economic Development Authority for their work in putting together what I think is probably one of the strongest ag relief packages in the country. And again, with the derecho, it certainly is something that’s important and needed.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (14:37)
Since the day we first learned that COVID-19 was in Iowa our goal has been to provide Iowans with the most up to date information so that they understood this current situation, and really what it means for them. This morning I’d like to talk a little bit about one of the new antigen testing that we have available for Iowans, which is something that you’ll be hearing more about, and something that’s becoming much more widely used in the State of Iowa. So again, that’s antigen testing.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (15:09)
Antigen testing is a new form of rapid diagnostic testing that reports results more quickly than traditional PCR testing. It does have a lower level of reliability at this point, but the CDC issued interim guidance recently for antigen testing, and we’ll likely see a significant increase in its use and availability, and actually we already are starting to see that. Until now the number of antigen tests in Iowa has been relatively low, and were included in the testing data reported on our coronavirus website. But were reported as inconclusive rather than positive or negative. Given the CDC’s interim guidance, and the growing number of these tests in Iowa, results will now be reported as positive or negative, and will be used as part of our process in calculating the positivity rate. So you will see some changes to the overall data.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (16:10)
As testing becomes more widespread and common, antigen testing will be a growing portion of the overall testing in Iowa. So this change will enable us to capture that data that we’re reporting to Iowans. And now I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Pedati to explain a little bit more about the antigen testing and how it’s being used. Dr. Pedati?
Caitlin Pedati : (16:33)
So since our recognition of this virus last December, there have been continuous efforts to enhance how we detect and track and manage individuals who are affected by this virus. The initial test types that were provided for COVID-19 were aimed at detecting that the genetic material, or the RNA of the virus. And Iowans can continue to access that kind of PCR testing through our state hygienic laboratory, through Test Iowa, as well as through a variety of our clinical and laboratory partners throughout Iowa.
Caitlin Pedati : (17:12)
Additionally, we’ve seen the increasing use of a new type of test called antigen testing be used here in Iowa, as well as across the United States. This antigen testing is looking for proteins that exist on the surface of the virus, and they can be helpful because it can be done more quickly, but not always in as high a volume as most PCR testing.
Caitlin Pedati : (17:37)
So as you’ve heard, we’re going to be incorporating these new antigen tests in our positive and negative test result counts, and designating that antigen test type. As we initially received a small volume of these antigen tests, our public health personnel were performing our case investigation and contact tracing activities and recommending isolation and quarantine for persons with antigen positive results, just like we do for persons with PCR positive results, and we’re going to continue to do that. But we will now also be sharing those results as part of the positive and negative counts. That will result in some adjustments to the percent positivity that we’ve seen, specifically our overall percent positivity will increase approximately 0.2%. And the percent positivity over the past 14 days will increase approximately 0.1%.
Caitlin Pedati : (18:36)
There’ll be 48 counties for whom there will either be no increase, or even a decrease in their percent positivity over the past 14 days. And there’ll be 51 counties for whom there will be an increase in the percent positivity. For 50 of those counties the increase will be between 0.1 and 1.1%. There is one County, Van Buren County, that’s going to see an increase of 5%, from 6.6 to 11.6%.
Caitlin Pedati : (19:08)
We’ve received approximately 10,000 of these antigen tests. And of those about 1000 have been positive. And of those 10,000, about 8,000 have come to us over the past 10 to 12 days, which demonstrates the recent increased use of this resource here in Iowa, which is why it’s important that we include this information in the trends and information that we share on our webpage. And as always, it’s going to continue to be very important for public health to work with our clinical and laboratory partners throughout the state to continue to incorporate new information and new resources in this response. Thank you.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (19:50)
Thanks Dr. Pedati, I appreciate that very much. And as you know, since the beginning of the pandemic, all of our decisions have been based on Iowa data, the expertise of the Iowa Department of Public Health, our epi team, the CDC, and national experts. And we also know without hesitation that this has been a fluid and changing situation.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (20:11)
Over the course of the summer, and as the school year begins, we have seen, and continue to see a notable increase in virus activity. We also know through the case investigation that’s being done, that this is mainly being driven by adults age 18 to 40. That rigorous case investigation process, and the contact tracing work that is being done by Dr. Pedati, the Department of Public Health, and at the local county level reinforces what we are seeing in the data that much of the spread that we’re seeing in Iowa continues to be tied back to young adults, even a smaller subset of the age 19 to 24.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (20:56)
And really the data is compelling. When you look at the last two weeks, 23% of all new positive cases statewide were among young adults ages 19 through 24. And that number is dramatically higher in several counties among the 19 to 24 year olds over the last 14 days. For example, in Johnson County, over the last 14 days, in 19 to 24 year olds, 58% of the new cases are in that category. In Story County, 67% of all new cases are among 19 to 24 year olds over the past 14 days.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (21:42)
When we take a look at the last seven days, 69% of new cases in Johnson County are attributed to that age group, and 74% of new cases in Story County were among that same young adult age group. So this trend also, as we all know, isn’t unique to Iowa, it’s happening across the Midwest and across the country.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (22:07)
Yesterday, I did have the opportunity to have a call with the presidents of the Iowa Regents universities to discuss what they’re seeing on campus and in their communities, as well as what their needs are going forward. And I really do appreciate the work that’s being done by all of our Iowa colleges and universities, especially those who’ve taken strong positions on holding students accountable for violating social distancing norms through large parties or gatherings. We are actively working to bring the Test Iowa resources to college campuses to again, assist them in meeting their testing needs.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (22:44)
The increase in the virus activity among young adults is the result of socializing in large groups, not social distancing, getting the virus and spreading it to classmates, coworkers, or others. And so while we still know that this population is less likely to be severely impacted by COVID-19, it is increasing the virus activity in the community, and it’s spilling over to other segments of the population.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (23:13)
So we are at a point where it is starting to become a workforce issue as well. While we aren’t seeing the impact reflected in hospitalization numbers, we’re concerned that it will start to impact the staffing in our healthcare systems, and potentially our schools. Workforce issues also pose a potential threat to our longterm care facilities and other places that we have worked so hard to adjust to operating in the COVID-19 world.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (23:44)
So in addition to ensuring that our healthcare resources remain stable, we can’t forget the importance of doing everything we can to protect our most vulnerable Iowans. An increase in community spread regardless of how it occurs, puts older adults and people with underlying health conditions at even greater risk. And with the start of the flu season not that far away, it is imperative that we implement some immediate steps to slow the spread among young adults in our state.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (24:16)
So today I have signed a new public health disaster proclamation that takes the following new public health measures to do that. First, we will be closing all bars, taverns, breweries, and nightclubs in six counties where some of the most virus activity is occurring. And those counties include Black Hawk, Dallas, Johnson, Linn, Polk, and Story. Restaurants that sell alcohol in those six counties are permitted to remain open, but they must also stop selling alcohol after 10:00 PM each night.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (24:52)
And I am again calling on all peace officers in the state to assist in the enforcement of these measures, as well as in the proclamation that I signed last week. And that includes the requirement that Iowans hosting social gatherings of more than 10 people must ensure that those attending maintain six feet of social distancing. Second, consistent with the recommendations of the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Board of Medicine, I am strongly encouraging all Iowans age two and older to wear a mask or other face covering when in public settings, especially in circumstances when it’s not possible to remain six feet from others outside their households unless it is safe to do so, or because of health or disability.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (25:43)
All of these actions go in effect tonight at 5:00 PM, and will be in effect until September 20th. I don’t make these decisions lightly, and it’s not lost on me to me that every business forced to close, alter their hours and sales, even temporarily, plays a role in the lives of Iowa workers and our-
Governor Kim Reynolds: (26:03)
… temporarily plays a role in the lives of Iowa workers and our small businesses, but these actions are absolutely necessary and come from guidance within the Iowa Department of Public Health, Dr. Pedati the epidemiologist team, and then I know today’s decision is the right one. As we’ve been doing since the beginning of the year, we’ll continue to monitor the situation and the data and be prepared to take actions needed to protect Iowans. It is my hope that we’ll be able to dial back these restrictions in the near future, but if they simply move large scale parties and other high risk activity elsewhere, then we’re going to be prepared to do more. I believe that Iowans care about doing the right thing for the greater good. I believe that we all want to protect the most vulnerable among us and safeguard our healthcare providers who have been our heroes during this uncertain time, but we are fully ready to take additional steps to protect public health, if necessary. So with that, we’ll be happy to take your questions.
Speaker 2: (27:09)
Governor Reynolds, so we’ve seen cases reported at several school districts already. And you report outbreaks out longterm facilities. I was just wondering some of the reasoning behind why you declined to report outbreaks at school districts.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (27:23)
Well, so, first of all, the state, public health, and the local public health, and then I’ll turn it over to Dr. Pedati in just a minute, and you can walk through some of that. I don’t know if you heard the question, it’s why we’re not reporting like we do some of the outbreaks with the longterm care facilities. State and local public health are working together, and then local public health is working with our school districts all across our state. And so they are providing the information and actually have access to the information sometimes before we do. And so their information is more timely than what we have at the state perspective and just like they do with all other instances, then they are responsible for notifying the parents and their communities. And so that’s the process that we have in place. And that’s the process that we’ll move forward with. When a school asks for a waiver that has been public information. So you’ll have some sense from that perspective, but Dr. Pedati, do you want to add anything to that?
Caitlin Pedati : (28:24)
I think, what I would add is that regardless of the illness, we have a long history of working closely with [inaudible 00:28:33] whether we’re talking about flu or we’re talking about COVID. We work very closely to make sure that the right recommendations and information is shared to protect the relevant person’s health, and we’re going to continue to do that. So that process is something we’ve done before. It’s something we’re going to continue to do to make sure that the people who need to be notified are notified. Director Garcia, I don’t know if she would have anything to add.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (29:04)
Oh. Yeah. Sure.
Director Garcia: (29:07)
I think the only other thing that I would add is that we certainly acknowledge that there is a public consumption here that is different than flu and pertussis, and so we continue to work closely with our local partners, with school districts, to identify as this evolves and changes. If a need presents for the state to become involved, we stand ready to do that.
Governor, the 14 day positivity rates on the state website show some of the counties with the highest rates are not among those that you’ve just ordered that the bars closed again.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (29:40)
Right. So in the case… Oh.
Yeah. What additional measures should folks in Plymouth and Carroll and Henry counties and Marion County be taking beyond… I mean, are you considering closing bars in those areas?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (29:56)
Well, not right now, because through the case of the investigation K, we’ve been able to identify where the larger percentage of the positive cases are. And we’ve been able to trace them back to large gathering, social gatherings and within the population of 18, 19 to 24 year olds. A lot of times, that’s why it’s so important that we put into context the positivity rates and the numbers. A lot of times in some of these smaller communities, there’s small number of individuals that are testing, and a lot of times they’re only going in when they’re symptomatic. And so out of the number that are testing, a higher number is positive. And that really sometimes skews the positivity rate. So we’ll continue like we do with all of the cases that test positive through the case investigation. We’ll take a look at what the data shows and then we’ll make adjustments moving forward, but a lot of times it has to do with the numbers that are actually testing in some of these communities, in the numbers and how that is skewing the positivity rate. That kind of makes sense.
Speaker 3: (31:02)
You said the college students, if they just start to gather in house parties instead that you’ll consider other measures, could you expand on what other tools you’re considering? And then if I can follow that up with, college kids have been coming back to campus. Now this week, K through 12 schools are starting. Do you have any level of concern that that will add to this spike in cases that we’re seeing right now?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (31:24)
So, you know a lot of the colleges and universities have put enforcement and protocols in place on campus. And they’ve said, actually, the students are doing a great job of adhering to the regulations that they put in place, wearing the face masks, social distancing, isolating when they become in contact with somebody that’s been tested positive through the case investigation that they’re doing. I know that they had reached out to the Greek system to just give them a heads up of some of the additional measures that they might take. If we see a shift from the case investigation, from some of the bar scene, and some of the gathering spots that they’re getting together, that they’re gathering, if that shifts to the houses, then they were going to take additional steps. But they said that they actually, they stepped up and said that they were going to put protocols in place themselves.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (32:13)
So I think everybody is collectively trying to work together to educate, inform, really talk about the impact that they are having on the community and on the workforce. And ultimately, to your point, that could have an impact on our K-12 system, when we’re looking at positivity rate, when we’re doing the case investigation, when we’re trying to make the determination of whether a school needs to go to a hybrid or if they need to make some adjustments. And it also, I indicated in my remarks, it is going to have an impact on our workforce because when the positive cases increase to the numbers that we’re seeing, especially in the counties that we listed, then the community spread is significant and it is impacting more vulnerable Iowans.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (32:59)
It is impacting our workforce, our healthcare providers, our longterm care providers, our social workers, our law enforcement, and our educators. And so we want to make sure that we get in front of this, especially as we move into the flu season to really stop, slow the spread, flatten the curve again, protect our healthcare resources and our workforce and our communities, and just really make sure that we’re in a better place than I think we are right now to move into the fall and potential flu season.
Speaker 3: (33:33)
Two things, if I may. One on the antigen tests, I think they have a higher possibility of negative test results. And if that’s true, how do we deal with that? And then the second question I have for you is about the schools. I think the Trump administration now considers teachers critical infrastructure workers. And we’ve seen that designation like in the meat packing industry. I wonder what that means for teachers, because I don’t think it’s a mandate. I don’t think it’s a requirement, but I think you can consider them that. And I wonder how you’re going to deal with that in Iowa. And this does mean, I understand, that teachers could be required to work even though they’re positive, but don’t have symptoms. And I wonder if that’s going to be [crosstalk 00:34:12]
Governor Kim Reynolds: (34:12)
Well, it gives them the flexibility to come back because they are classified as it, but I would say that from the word go, they have been an essential part of our workforce. They are educating our greatest asset, our young people, and they know how important it is to get these kids back in school for a whole host of reasons that we have laid out multiple times, whether it’s isolation, a safe learning environment, whether we make sure that they get a hot meal, physical activity, that we make sure that they get the behavioral services that so many of them require to make sure that they’re getting that in a timely manner so that they can have every opportunity to learn and to be successful. So I would say that they have been all along. And it’s important that we make sure that we’re doing that in a safe and responsible way.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (35:03)
And it’s just like it was at the very beginning. When we first had our first cases of COVID in Iowa, our healthcare providers, it was a scary, scary time. And we didn’t know really what it entailed, but it was essential that they showed up and that they took care of Iowans and they did it. They just took one day at a time. We learned more, as we’ve moved through the process. We’ve made sure that they have the proper PPE to protect them. And so we need to apply those same parameters to our educators. Continually look at the data, have the three modules in place so we can move in and out of whatever the data provides, so we can continue to educate our young people in a safe and responsible manner, and I’m sorry. What was your first question? That was such a long answer that I forgot.
Speaker 3: (35:58)
I know. The higher negativity [crosstalk 00:00:36:00].
Governor Kim Reynolds: (36:00)
Oh. Okay. Yeah. There tend to be more false positives. And I think that was some of the concern early on, Caitlin, and we just weren’t seeing as many tests. But as we’ve seen the numbers increase, that is one of the reasons we just felt that it was… And a lot of States aren’t reporting those tests, but we just thought it was important, as we’ve seen the number increase that we take that into account when we’re looking at positive cases in the state of Iowa. But do you want to address the false negative?
Caitlin Pedati : (36:28)
Yeah. So I would say there’s federal as well as manufacturer guidance for any tasks that we would recommend that people follow as well. And so that does include the recommendation that if you have a negative and somebody who you have a high index of suspicion or somebody who has symptoms and the clinician strongly suspects that they could be infected, that that can be confirmed by PCR. And that is something that our state hygienic laboratory, that’s a backup that our state hygienic laboratory, and provide that kind of confirmation. So we would always recommend, just like with any new tool or resource, that we take advantage of and follow the manufacturer’s guidance for these sorts of things. And that test type and performance may continue to evolve. And we may continue to get new test types over time. And all of this is always in the context of the setting that anybody who’s sick for any reason or who has been around somebody who has COVID should isolate or quarantine in accordance with public health guidance.
Speaker 4: (37:33)
What happens if bar doesn’t follow your order? Will there be repercussions for that bar, possibly with their liquor license? And will Iowa change its testing criteria to align with the new CDC guidance releasing asymptomatic testing isn’t recommended?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (37:50)
There will be enforcement mechanisms for those that comply like there is with any other part of the health disaster proclamation. DIA will be working. I’ve asked the local police enforcement to help us monitor too. At least let us know where they see if people aren’t following through with the guidelines, so we’ll continue to monitor and enforce. And we’ll also, again, we’ll be able to determine some of that through the case investigation that takes place as well. So there’s multiple ways where we can try to identify where we’re potentially still having a problem moving forward. Do you want to address the CDC? I’m not familiar with that.
Caitlin Pedati : (38:26)
Yeah. So my current recommendation is still that testing be performed for anybody who is suspected to have COVID or who has been in close contact, and that support that is still provided through our state hygienic laboratory, so that has not changed.
Speaker 5: (38:44)
Governor, sorry [inaudible 00:00:38:45].
Governor Kim Reynolds: (38:46)
I think… Okay.
Speaker 5: (38:47)
Are you done?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (38:47)
I won’t leave until I take your question, Kathy, so we’re okay.
Oh. Okay. Well, she can go ahead.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (38:50)
I’ll go after her.
Speaker 5: (38:51)
Okay. Thanks. I wanted to ask you about the backdating. Originally on Monday looking at the cases there were about 470 or so in that 24 hour time period and then…
Speaker 5: (39:03)
470 or so in that 24 hour time period. And then looking back today at the case, it’s a little over a thousand, which is obviously a big difference. So I’m just wondering with that backdating, if that gives Iowans a true transparent look at the real-time data when there’s kind of that big delay?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (39:19)
Caitlin Pedati : (39:20)
Yeah. So again, there’s going to continue to be fluctuations as we receive reports within a 24 hour period that are then assigned to the date on which that specimen was collected. There are also fluctuations in when people get tested, right? Weekends versus weekdays, and when those [inaudible 00:39:39]. and again, as we continue to see, for example, the increased reporting and use of something like antigen testing, those things will change and we’re going to continue to turn around those results as quickly and comprehensively as we can.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (39:59)
Does that answer your question?
Speaker 5: (40:01)
Governor Kim Reynolds: (40:01)
I mean, you do see delays from the weekend because we’re not doing the Test Iowa. Sometimes when they use the national labs, that takes a little bit longer for the results to come in, right, Caitlin?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (40:11)
Speaker 5: (40:11)
What’s the actual testing capacity per day right now?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (40:17)
Caitlin Pedati : (40:17)
For the entire-
Governor Kim Reynolds: (40:18)
No, go ahead. No.
Caitlin Pedati : (40:21)
I’m sorry, Governor. I think that our state hygienic laboratory has capacity, I would say, probably around 4,000. We’re expanding that all the time, and we can see if we can get you something a little bit more as followup, but then there’s also capacity in the form of other laboratories throughout the state, right? Commercial laboratories. And also again, the increased use of things like these antigen testing resources.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (40:48)
I mean, they’re talking about saliva test. I mean, this is going to continue to evolve. So even like today, I think it was close to seven. So I think it’s between four and five, and they are constantly reviewing their processes with the anticipation of I think hopefully getting it to seven. So the state hygienic lab and Dr. Pentella and his team have put in heroic efforts to really continue to expand the number of tests that they can do daily. And their turn around time is incredible. A lot of the people that reach out to me that say, “I just went through the process. I can’t believe how professional it was. It was easy. It was simple, and I got my test back in 24 hours,” and I know their goal is, well, they got it back, yeah, is two days, but a lot of times, those test results are coming back within one day.
Speaker 6: (41:34)
Kathy, go ahead.
Thanks. Governor, you’ve been worried for over a month about the young people and gathering in bars.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (41:45)
Why wait until now to take this action, especially when we’ve already seen massive parties at Iowa state and at University of Iowa, and now hundreds of kids testing positive?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (42:00)
Yeah. So as they come back on campus, it kind of started, I think, with the holidays, and we monitored that and we’ve seen a little bit of an uptick from that, and then it started to come back down. And then as the kids started going back to school, we saw an increase again. And through the case investigation that we received, we made the determination. Like I said, I don’t take these decisions lightly, but we made the decision to move forward with this because we felt that it was important to get in front of what could potentially be a bad flu season.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (42:29)
And so we know it’s important that we start to flatten that curve, that we reduce the virus activity, and this was a way that we felt that we could do that. And I’m hoping that we’ll start to see those mitigation efforts have a result.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (42:45)
So the derecho is also a component of that. We’ve seen a lot of people out in the communities, in Linn County. We’re trying to anticipate what potentially could be an uptick just from that in communities all across the state. And I not only have to weigh the health and safety of Iowans, but that’s their lives and their livelihoods. And so, I’m trying to balance all of that as we move forward and be very targeted in the mitigation efforts that we put in place.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (43:18)
And we’ll take a look at this. We’ll see if we see the results that we are hoping that we will see by doing that. And if it’s not enough, then Kathy, we’ll do more. And we’re going to monitor this situation, or to Kay’s point, if we see this happening in other areas, we’ll take a look at the data that we’re reviewing, and if we need to add or dial back, we’re going to do that.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (43:42)
So we can always question the timing. I’m just trying to balance just a lot of different things when we were making these decisions.
Speaker 6: (43:51)
We’re going to go to Ian at The Register and then KCRG has a derecho question and they’re on the line. Ian, go ahead.
Governor, you’ve been recommending mask wearing for several weeks now.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (43:59)
I know there was an August 9th White House coronavirus taskforce recommendation that you considered mandating masks in some of the areas with highest spread.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (44:07)
Can you explain why you’ve stopped short again of putting a mask mandate in-
Governor Kim Reynolds: (44:09)
Because I just don’t think that that’s going to get to where we need to go. I think the goal is to strongly encourage and recommend that people wear them. I’ve said that from the very beginning, and I believe that people are. And so we’re going to continue to talk about it, talk about the importance of doing it. Businesses are doing it. Some of our cities are doing, not cities, but the local governments within their discretion, within their buildings are doing it. And I’m going to continue to strongly encourage Iowans to wear face coverings, especially when they can’t social distance, and do the responsible thing. And I think that ultimately will go further.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (44:49)
And just, the thing, it’s not enforceable. And you just see it over and over and over when somebody says that they are issuing a mask mandate, almost within the same paragraph, they say that they’re not going to enforce it. So let’s just focus on the goal. Let’s focus on being responsible. Let’s focus on flattening the curve, and let’s focus on doing the right thing. And I believe that we can do that without a mask mandate.
With the cities that have mandated masks, do you anticipate [crosstalk 00:45:17] them?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (45:17)
Well, I would say that what they did, they strongly recommend, because they know that it’s not enforceable, honestly, because the AG has weighed in on that and said if it’s stronger than what is in the health declaration, then it’s not enforceable. So they know that. And I think they are doing the same thing, they are strongly recommending that people wear face coverings, especially when you can’t social distance. And we’re going to continue. It’s in the proc this time. It specifically says that we strongly recommend Iowans to use face coverings, especially if they’re not able to social distance.
Speaker 6: (45:52)
Eric, go ahead.
Good morning, Governor. 32 school buildings in Cedar Rapids were damaged by the derecho and the school district is saying, of those, six are not expected to open any earlier than November 16th, and another six not expected to open any earlier than January 1st. So with the importance being placed by your office on getting kids back to school, is there anything the state is looking at doing or can do to maybe help the Cedar Rapids community school district to kind of speed up that timeline?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (46:26)
We’ve already done that, as a matter of fact, and Anne, do you want to kind of walk through-
Governor Kim Reynolds: (46:29)
A waiver through the Department of Education. And it’s actually already been done, but do you want to give a few of the specifics.
Yeah. We actually approved their disaster waiver yesterday, and we’ve had a lot of conversations with the superintendent there on their needs. This is certainly a very unique and challenging situations, so we’ve been working with them on options for when they might even be able to go remote, resources they might need in order to even do that, different buildings that could be utilized in different ways.
And so I think if you reach out directly to Cedar Rapids, or we’d be happy to follow up also, they have a lot of thoughtful details in how they’re trying to manage that plan back, knowing that it isn’t going to look the same because of the level of destruction and the impact on the families.
So we’d be happy to give you more information, but we’re doing everything we can to help them resolve these issues in the midst of all the challenges.
Governor Kim Reynolds: (47:17)
[inaudible 00:47:17] Noreen Bush.
Yeah, Superintendent Bush has been incredibly proactive in her work for the school, and in contact with us. And again, reaching out to every possible partner to help find a way for those kids to learn and get the resources they need. I know other communities have reached out to them and are partnering with them on some of their facilities and their resources also.
Governor, how do you complete the census in Cedar Rapids when so many people are displaced, and other communities, Madrid, where people aren’t able to live in their homes? Are you asking for a waiver from the federal government?
Governor Kim Reynolds: (47:53)
Well not yet because they’ve extended it and extended it, and I don’t know what is the final date. It’s still-
Speaker 7: (47:57)
Governor Kim Reynolds: (47:57)
September 30th. So, Kate, we’ll probably just have to reevaluate midway and see where we’re at. But people can go online and do it and we’ve been encouraging that all along. I want to thank the Lieutenant Governor who’s kind of led the efforts on that. And so, that committee can revisit that and see if there’s additional steps that we need to take, but they do have the opportunity to go online I think still, right?
Speaker 7: (48:18)
Governor Kim Reynolds: (48:18)
And complete that. The other thing with the Superintendent from Cedar Rapids, we did have an opportunity to visit some of the damage. I think it was Kennedy was the school that we were at, and it is significant. And she just talked about the magnitude of the buildings that had been impacted from the derecho, but they really do, to Anne’s point, have a really good plan in place. They are trying to target some of their elementary schools that they think that they can get up and going before some of the other ones so we can get some of the younger kids maybe back in. So they’re really doing, I think, a great effort, and considering all that they’re dealing with, they’re working really hard to do the right thing on behalf of those kids. And I really appreciate their efforts in doing that. Thank you.
Speaker 6: (49:00)