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White House report: Iowa has 'unyielding COVID spread'

The latest report calls for immediate action to decrease the surge in cases and limit the number of Iowans dying from the virus.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa has a "deeper spread across the state" of coronavirus as indicated by data from new hospital admissions, inpatients, and patients in the Intensive Care Unity at a record pace,  according to the latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report.

ABC News obtained the latest report, dated Nov. 8, issued to Gov. Kim Reynolds for the time period of Oct. 31 to Nov. 6. 

According to the report, during that time frame, more than 95% of Iowa's hospitals reported either new confirmed or new suspected COVID patients each day. 

Iowa's nursing homes are especially vulnerable, showing a sharp increase in the number of COVID cases reported among residents and staff. 

41% of nursing homes in the state reported at least one new staff case between Oct. 26 and Nov. 1.

According to the report, Iowa had nearly triple the national average of new COVID cases per 100,000 people in that time frame. The state reported 621 new cases per 100,000, while the national average was 209 per 100,000.

Some of the recommendations outlined by the task force for Iowa leaders to implement in response to the surge in cases and hospitalizations include:

  • proactive and increased testing and surveillance
  • weekly testing of teachers, community college students, staff in crowded places, hospital personnel
  • limiting indoor restaurant capacity to less than 50% and restricting hours until cases and test positivity go down
  • tell Iowans to always wear a mask in public and stop gatherings beyond immediate household
  • mandate masks be worn by students and teachers in K-12 schools

"The unyielding COVID spread across Iowa continues with new hospital admissions, inpatients, and patients in the ICU at record levels, indicating deeper spread across the state," the report says. 

"The most recent trends, showing steep inclines across all indicators, need immediate action including mask requirements to decrease severity in morbidity and mortality among Iowans."

During a Tuesday press conference, Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a targeted mask mandate for large social gatherings and certain businesses, but did not institute a statewide mask mandate or limit the hours or capacity of indoor restaurants or bars. 

Iowa schools are not required to mandate face coverings to be worn by all teachers and students, though many of them require them.

So far this month, the state Iowa Department of Education has approved requests from 24 school districts to move their students to temporary online instruction because of widespread virus transmission and rising cases in students and staff.

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