Reynolds says Iowa hospitals equipped for record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations

A record-high of 444 Iowans are hospitalized with COVID-19, but Gov. Kim Reynolds said hospitals have not hit the peak of their capacity.


Katina Zentz

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol on Jan. 14.

Caleb McCullough, Politics Editor

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Iowa’s health-care providers are able to handle a surge in hospitalizations as Iowa hits a record high for the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Iowa reached 444 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic. One hundred and four of those patients are in intensive care. Just 34 percent of hospital beds are available according to the state’s coronavirus website.

Reynolds said at a press conference Wednesday that this increase has been caused by an uptick in community spread of the virus, primarily in northwest Iowa and other rural counties. The ages of those infected are evenly distributed, Reynolds said, and 72 percent of those hospitalized are more than 60 years old.

“This is disappointing news, and sadly, it’s what can happen when we are experiencing community spread,” Reynolds said.

Despite the rising number of hospitalizations, Reynolds said hospitals are equipped to handle a surge, and Iowa hospitals have not reached their capacity for treatment. She said health-care providers have access to therapeutics that will help patients recover sooner.

“The unprecedented coordination and collaboration between our health-care systems has really been impressive and it is allowing us to manage these increased numbers,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said no hospitals in northwest Iowa are at capacity, and patients aren’t currently being referred to hospitals in South Dakota. She said hospitals have the option to suspend elective surgeries if they need to focus more resources on COVID-19 patients.

Also at the press conference, Reynolds detailed the rollout of 60,000 rapid antigen tests provided by the federal government, which she said will go primarily to rural hospitals and clinics, where testing is lacking in the area. Because these tests will be widely available, Reynold said the state may start reporting test results based on the number of tests conducted, rather than individuals tested.

Currently, the state reports only the number of individuals tested and includes the results of their most recent test. While 833,000 people have been tested, Reynolds said 1.3 million tests have been conducted. While no decision has been made as to a change in reporting, she said the Department of Public Health will make a recommendation on a decision next week.

“If reporting changes are warranted, we’ll explain why so that Iowans know they can continue to trust and rely on the information that’s provided by the state,” Reynolds said.

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