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Coronavirus

Iowa governor: ‘We can’t let COVID-19 dominate our lives’

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JOHNSTON (AP) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Wednesday evoked President Donald Trump in saying, “We can’t let COVID-19 dominate our lives,” even as virus cases surge in the state.

Reynolds acknowledged that Iowa is seeing a spike in coronavirus cases and record hospitalizations, but she said the health care system could handle the increase and no further action was needed to reduce infections. While Reynolds said Iowa has taken action to slow the spread of the virus, she argued that it must balance safety precautions against moves to open businesses, schools and return to normal life.

“The president is also right. We can’t let COVID-19 dominate our lives,” she said.

There were 444 people being treated for the coronavirus in hospitals as of Wednesday morning, a record number for the state since the pandemic began. In the past 24 hours, the state had 919 new confirmed positive cases and 15 more deaths.

Despite the increases, Reynolds said hospital officials reported they were equipped to handle the surge.

Reynolds didn’t announce any plans to reduce the rising numbers of people infected and being hospitalized but emphasized that everyone needed to take personal responsibility, including by wearing masks, washing their hands and observing social distancing.

“We’re going to continue to remind people that those are the things they can do to mitigate community spread,” she said.

Asked whether the state should do more, including abiding by a White House Task Force recommendation that Iowa impose a mask mandate, Reynolds responded that there also would be a cost to requiring more stringent safety measures.

“We are doing a lot, and I’m proud of what we’re doing. Any death is one to many, and it’s heart-wrenching to see the numbers,” she said. “I have to balance a lot, and we are, and we’ve got a great team that’s working together, and working with Iowans and businesses across the state. There’s more than just one side of this.”

In her weekly news conferences, Reynolds often stresses that businesses are doing well in Iowa and that schools, despite significant outbreaks that have quarantined hundreds of children and educators, are successfully abiding by her requirement to hold classes.

Reynolds typically doesn’t dwell on details about the increasing numbers of residents being hospitalized or dying of the coronavirus.

Iowa health data shows 97 people were admitted to a hospital with COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, much higher than daily hospitalizations that have typically been below 50 but have spiked in the past month.

In the past week, an average of 10 people died every day. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Iowa has risen over the past two weeks from around seven deaths per day on Sept. 22 to 10 deaths per day on Oct. 6.

The average daily positivity rate also has increased, and Iowa continues to have the fourth-highest positivity rate in the nation at 16.82%, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University.

Reynolds also frequently stresses that younger healthy people often do not get seriously ill. She pointed out again Wednesday that people over 60 made up 72% of hospitalizations over the last two weeks. Iowa had 54 nursing homes with outbreaks of COVID-19 on Wednesday, and of the state’s deaths, 51%, or 723, were in nursing homes.

State data also shows 8,024 children under age 17 have tested positive for coronavirus, as well as more than 4,200 educators.

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