Gov. Kim Reynolds to allocate $14 million of CARES funds to long-term care facilities

After issuing the state’s first mask-requiring measures on Nov. 10, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced $14 million in CARES funding for long-term care facilities and addressed concerns on the meatpacking industry’s handling of COVID-19.


Katina Zentz

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

Grace Hamilton, News Reporter

Gov Kim Reynolds followed up on recent efforts to mitigate the spike of COVID-19, announcing $14 million in CARES funding allocated to long-term care facilities, following a discussion about the state’s efforts in protecting Tyson Food employees.  

Reynolds said that of the 443 long-term care facilities in Iowa, 114 are currently in outbreak status after an additional 20 facilities were announced during the Thursday press conference. 

In response, Reynolds said that $14 million in CARES funds will be distributed toward facilities to assist with the costs of testing and staffing. There have been 972 deaths linked to long-term care facilities as of Nov. 19, and there have been 2,832 positive cases, according to the state’s COVID-19 website.

The Iowa Department of Public Health states that long-term care facilities experience a COVID-19 outbreak when three residents test positive within a 14 day period. A facility can only close outbreak status after 28 days have passed since the last positive resident case. 

Among recent allegations that Tyson Foods’ managers at a Waterloo facility bet money on the amount of workers to contract COVID-19, Reynolds took on the topic of the state’s role in protecting workers in the food industry. 

“…I’m really proud that we led the country by being able to not only provide PCR testing, but also serology testing so we could get into these facilities and get these workers tested,” Reynolds said. “We tested a lot of individuals in a short period of time to provide them with the information they needed.” 

Over the summer, the families of three deceased meat-packing workers in Iowa sued Tyson Foods, saying the company knowingly put employees at risk for COVID-19 and withheld information about cases in the facilities. 

Thousands of meat-packing workers across the country have become infected with COVID-19 — and many died — after states deemed the meat-packing industry as essential and failed to implement proper safety precautions. 

When asked by a reporter if she thought Tyson Foods might have thwarted the state’s mitigation efforts, Reynolds said she was unable to comment, adding that the state helped keep the food supply chain moving by providing testing in a time when testing resources were scarce. 

Concluding the press conference, Reynolds urged Iowans to continue to practice recommended and mandated safety measures. 

“…We can continue to have this debate back-and-forth about what works and what doesn’t. Or we can implement layered mitigation efforts that we know can have an affect on the virus, start to drive the trend down, and really help alleviate some of the pressure on our hospitals.” 

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, Reynolds’ mask requirement measures will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 10. The new masking rules only require individuals to wear a mask in public spaces when they are unable to socially-distance for longer than 15 minutes.

Until then, Reynolds said she will continue to implement mitigation efforts according to changing trends. 

“We put targeted mitigation steps in place and we’re going to dial them up if we need to, and we’re going to dial them back as soon as we see the trends change.”