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White House coronavirus task force notes ‘many preventable deaths’ in Iowa

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV) -- A White House task force report focusing on the coronavirus pandemic has told Iowa leaders that many of the deaths caused by the high level of virus spread in Iowa were preventable.

The report was released to the media a day after Gov. Kim Reynolds said Iowans shouldn't let the virus dominate their lives.

Average daily deaths have increased over the past two weeks to 10 per day. State health data shows more than 1,500 new cases over the last 24 hours and five additional deaths.

That brings the state number of deaths to 1,419 as of Thursday morning. And it appears northwest Iowa continues to see an increase when it comes to COVID-19 cases.

The report lists six metro areas in Iowa that are in the red zone, and several of those are in Siouxland. They include Sioux City, Dubuque, Oskaloosa, Storm Lake, Spencer and Spirit Lake.

Also, in the red zone are 30 counties across the state. More than 50% of those are here in Siouxland. They include Woodbury, Sioux, Plymouth, Crawford, Lyon, O'Brien, Buena Vista, Sac, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Palo Alto, Osceola, Ida, Monona and Emmet.

The report also addressed the increase in hospital admissions due to COVID.

It says, between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2, on average, 60 patients with confirmed COVID-19 and 37 patients with suspected COVID-19 were reported as newly-admitted each day to hospitals across the state.

Also, an average of great than 95% of hospitals reported either new confirmed or new suspected COVID patients each day during that period.

During a news conference Wednesday, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds addressed the increase in hospitalizations Wednesday during a news conference.

"So after seven months of treating COVID-19 our doctors, nurses and other health care professionals are experienced in treating the virus and they now have access to new therapeutics and different treatment options to help patients recover sooner," said Gov. Reynolds. "So even though the number of Iowans hospitalized is the highest it's been we've not approached the peak of our hospital capacity our healthcare system in Iowa is strong and for that we are grateful."

The report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force says 70% of all counties in Iowa have moderate or high levels of community transmission, with 30% having high levels of community transmission.

The report lays out several recommendations including:

  • Continue testing at high levels to rapidly identify cases and support isolation.
  • Messaging to communities about the effectiveness of masks is critical, as many outdoor activities will be moving indoors with colder weather approaching.
  • Masks must be worn indoors in all public settings and group gathering sizes should be limited.
  • In high transmission zones, limit indoor, dining, bar hours and expand outdoor dining options.

The report from the task force also took a look at where the three Siouxland states rank nationally when it comes to new cases of COVID-19.

When it comes to new cases per 100,000, the week of Sept. 26 through Oct. 2, South Dakota comes in at number two, Iowa comes in at number six and Nebraska comes in at number seven.

North Dakota came in at number one.

You can read the task force's full report here.

Keith W. Bliven

KTIV News Director

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