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Virus spread is still broad in Iowa, notes new White House Coronavirus Task Force report

The report comes after the Thanksgiving holiday.

While new coronavirus cases may be reaching a plateau in Iowa, the White House Coronavirus Task Force report warned virus spread is still broad and COVID-related hospitalizations will continue in the coming weeks.

The report was obtained by ABC News on Wednesday. It is dated Nov. 29, following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Main Summary

  • Iowa remains in the red zone for cases, meaning we have the sixth-highest rate of new cases in the country. Iowa is also in the red zone for test positivity, which is the rate of positive tests in an entire batch of testing. 
  • During the week of Nov 16 - Nov 22, 32% of nursing homes had at least one new resident COVID-19 case, 62% had at least one new staff COVID-19 case, and 10% had at least one new resident COVID-19 death.
  • Iowa had nearly double the national average of new cases per 100,000 population.
  • Between Nov 21 - Nov 27, on average, 169 patients with confirmed COVID-19 and 35 patients with suspected COVID-19 were reported as newly admitted each day to hospitals in Iowa. This is a decrease of 23% in total COVID-19 hospital admissions.

More than 1,100 people remain in the hospital for coronavirus at this time.

Additionally, the month of November saw the highest number of Iowans passing away from the virus.

The task force pointed out in its most recent report that since Memorial Day, the number of deaths from the virus has more than doubled in the United State. 

"We are in a very dangerous place due to the current, extremely high COVID baseline and limited hospital capacity; a further post-Thanksgiving surge will compromise COVID patient care, as well as medical care overall," wrote the task force.

Recommendations

  • It must be made clear that if you are over 65 or have significant health conditions, you should not enter any indoor public spaces where anyone is unmasked due to the immediate risk to your health; you should have groceries and medications delivered.
  • If you are under 40, you need to assume you became infected during the Thanksgiving period if you gathered beyond your immediate household.
  • Cases may be reaching a plateau in Iowa, although the percent of nursing homes with at least one positive staff member and positive residents continues to be at very high levels, indicating virus spread is still broad. COVID-related hospitalizations will continue in the coming weeks.
  • Testing and case trends should be cautiously interpreted this week given the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
  • Stay vigilant with nursing home staff and residents; over 60% of nursing homes have at least one COVID positive staff member and over 30% have COVID positive residents, indicating unmitigated community spread. Ensure all nursing homes, assisted living, and elderly care sites have full testing capacity and are isolating positive staff and residents.
  • Effective practices to decrease transmission in public spaces include limiting restaurant indoor capacity to less than 25% and limiting bar hours until cases and test positivity decrease to the yellow zone.
  • Ensure compliance with public health orders, including wearing masks.

Specific, detailed guidance on community mitigation measures can be found on the CDC website.

The report is released weekly to each governor.

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