Gov. Kim Reynolds says facility outbreaks are not indicative of community spread

Gov. Kim Reynolds said during her daily press conference that facility outbreaks are not the same thing as community spread, as some facility outbreaks are happening in counties that are allowed to reopen businesses.


Katina Zentz

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol on Tuesday, January 14, 2020.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

During Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Tuesday press conference, she attributed a rise in COVID-19 cases to an increase in testing, and said facility outbreaks are not indicative of a community spread.

“We’re looking at trends, not just a snapshot in time,” Reynolds said. “We might not have to do anything different other than educating Iowans in communities.”

Iowa has seen a spike in cases among the 18 to 40 age group, and Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Sarah Reisetter said that is likely because of surveillance testing at work places and people testing positive even if they may not be showing symptoms.

The IDPH classifies something as an outbreak when 10 percent of a workforce or facility gets sick in a single employment setting. Reisetter said that at the Tyson plant in Columbus Junction, 221 workers, or 26 percent of the workforce tested positive for COVID-19. 258 workers, or 39 percent of the workforce at Iowa Premium National Beef in Tama tested positive. At a Tyson plant in Waterloo, 444 workers, or 17 percent, of the workforce tested positive. At a Tyson plant in Perry, 730 workers, or 58 percent of the workforce tested positive and at a TPI Composite plant in Newton, 13 percent, or 131 workers tested positive.

Reisetter said the 10 percent system the IDPH is applying is a consistent standard for what the department uses with schools for influenza surveillance. 

As a part of Reynolds’ Test Iowa initiative, there are drive through test sites in Des Moines, Waterloo, and Sioux City, and on Thursday there will be a site in Cedar Rapids. Reynolds encouraged Iowans that live in or near these communities to take the online assessment at to assess eligibility for a test. She said more than 300,000 Iowans have taken the online assessment. 

As a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, Iowa will receive $71.6 million in federal aid to K-12 schools, according to Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. Lebo said the money will go toward funding technology resources, WiFi hotspots for students, mental health and disability services, and professional development for teachers and faculty. 

Lebo said 91 percent of the funds will go directly to school districts, and the other 9 percent will go to state-level education response. Schools can access the application today and have until the close of business on Monday, May 11 to complete the form. Districts can expect to receive these funds on May 13 and must use the funds by September 2022, Lebo said.

Reynolds will travel to Washington D.C. this week to meet with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, along with several other governors. She said she will give them an update on what Iowa is doing to mitigate the virus and will thank the administration for their assistance. Reynolds said she is flying to Washington D.C. on a private jet paid for by campaign funds.

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