Just days after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds put additional restrictions into place, the latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report warns that current COVID-19 mitigation strategies are not working and need to be increased.
“There is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration. Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies,” the report states.
The reports are distributed weekly on Sundays, one for each state. The Nov. 15 report, obtained by ABC News, uses data from Nov. 6-13 to identify coronavirus hot spots and make recommendations to state leaders. The latest Iowa report shows a jump in the number of new cases per 100,000 population, the measuring stick that’s used to classify spread of the disease.
Hardin, along with the other 98 counties are all considered to be in the 'red zone,' with a statewide average of 991 cases per 100,000 compared to the national average of 294 per 100,000. The previous week Iowa saw 621 cases per 100,000. Hardin County was even higher with 1,292.4 cases per 100,000 from Nov. 6-13.
According to daily numbers produced by the state on its coronavirus website, 776 tests were administered in that week in Hardin County producing 218 positive results. That's a positivity rate of 28.1 percent.
According to the report, Iowa had the third-highest positivity rate in the country that week.
“The spread in Iowa is exponential and unyielding," the report stated. "The mask requirements in limited settings are a good start for Iowa to slow the spread; however, this recommendation needs to be expanded to all public settings.”
Hardin County now has reported 977 positive cases since testing began in March. Of those cases, 449 are considered to be recovered and 10 people have died. That leaves 518 active cases in the county.
As the virus continues to spread, hospital beds in the state continue to fill up. Between Nov. 7-13 196 patients with confirmed COVID and 45 suspected to have COVID for a total of 241 each day were newly admitted to Iowa Hospitals. On Wednesday, Reynolds said more than 200 Iowans were being newly admitted into hospitals for COVID-19. In contrast, on Oct. 1 that number was less than 100.
Local doctors have spoken out about the severity of the disease and how local hospitals and clinics are handling the pandemic. Dr. Katie Haverkamp, a physician at Iowa Falls Clinic stressed the need for people to wash their hands, socially distance and wear face coverings.
“This is affecting us here at home. This is not New York City. This is here. Haverkamp said. “We are filling up and we are becoming overwhelmed. We are on an upward trajectory and I don’t know when it’s going to stop.”
On Monday, Reynolds announce multiple new restrictions in an attempt to mitigate risk.
The task force report went as far as to recommend stronger restrictions than the governor's.
“With all counties in the red zone and over 50 percent of nursing homes with at least one positive staff member, mitigation and messaging must be further strengthened," the report states. "Effective practices to decrease transmission in public spaces include limiting restaurant indoor capacity to less than 25 percent and limiting bar hours until cases and test positivity decrease to the yellow zone.”