IOWA, USA — The United States Department of Health and Human Services assured Iowans on Thursday the state will receive its allotted amount of COVID-19 vaccines.
As the state waits for vaccines, the White House Coronavirus Task Force says diagnosing and treating patients early is "essential for those at risk for adverse outcomes."
The latest report obtained by ABC News says Iowa is still in the red zone for new cases and test positivity. This means the state has seen 101 or more cases per 100,000 people, as well as a positivity rate at or above 10.1%.
Compared to the rest of the country, Iowa is ranked 36th for new cases and 18th for test positivity.
Cases and test positivity decreased Dec. 5 through 11.
Iowa reported 383 cases per 100,000 people, lower than the national average of 451 per 100,000. The task force report says 99% of Iowa's 99 counties have moderate-to-high levels of community transmission.
83% of counties have high levels of community transmission.
Polk, Linn and Scott counties reported the highest number of cases over the last three weeks. They make up 25.6% of new cases in the state, according to the report.
Nursing homes in Iowa continue to see cases among residents and staff.
Between Nov. 30 and Dec. 6, 31% of nursing homes reported at least one new resident case while 51% had at least one new staff positive.
The report indicates 20% of nursing homes reported at least one resident death from the coronavirus.
Statewide hospitalizations have decreased since November's surge.
Between Dec. 5 and 11, on average, 122 patients with confirmed COVID-19 and 25 patients with suspected COVID-19 were reported as newly admitted each day to Iowa hospitals.
The White House says this is a decrease of 13% in total new COVID-19 hospital admissions.
The report lists out several treatment options for COVID-positive patients.
Those at high risk for severe outcomes but don't require hospitalization are recommended to use monoclonal antibodies, or bamlanivimab.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved this drug for emergency use. The report notes that antibodies have not been shown to be of benefit and may be harmful in late-stage patients, especially those requiring high-flow oxygen or assisted ventilation.
Patients that require hospitalization should be prescribed remdesivir, with the report saying it is best when used early in the patient's hospital stay. The benefits of the drug are most evident in those who require supplemental oxygen, but when it's delivered via a high-flow device or a ventilator.
For late-stage inpatients, the task force recommends dexamethasone, which works best for patients with severe COVID-19 that need breathing assistance from a ventilator.
The White House wants Iowa to "utilize all antigen tests during this current surge" to locate community asymptomatic spread.
"The silent community spread that precedes and continues to drive these surges can only be identified and interrupted through proactive focused testing for both the identification of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals," the report says.
The report also insists on more mitigation efforts being placed in the state as more and more gatherings move indoors.
Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday there won't be any restrictions on how many people can gather in one place, as long as they are wearing masks and social distancing.
The White House also wants Iowans to comprehend vaccine prioritization in the state. Vaccinating individuals over 65 years old will have the greatest impact on hospitalizations and deaths, according to the report.
"For those over 70 with COVID infection, 20% or more are admitted and nearly 10% die," the report says.
People 65 years or older with "significant health conditions" should avoid indoor public spaces where others aren't wearing face coverings, according to the White House.
They should also have groceries and medications delivered to their homes.
"If you are under 40, you need to assume you became infected if you gathered beyond your immediate household," the report warns.
The report says you most likely won't have symptoms, but you are dangerous to others and you must isolate yourself away from anyone at increased risk for severe illness and get tested.
If symptoms appear, seek treatment immediately.
While virus levels are decreasing, the state is still reporting high numbers.
The White House report advises officials to keep testing levels high throughout the holiday season to "remove asymptomatic transmission over the next four weeks", says schools should require mask-wearing and conduct active testing where cases are increasing.
Universities should have plans ready for the spring semester and require all students to be tested weekly to prevent spread in the community, the report adds.
Nursing homes should have full testing capacity, according to the White House, because high levels of staff continue to test positive, indicating "continued and unmitigated community spread in these geographic locations."
Tribal Nations should conduct weekly testing in their communities and results need to be rapid, and isolation and contact tracing should be done immediately.
Read the full Iowa report below