Governor: Iowa's pandemic picture improving

(Des Moines, IA) -- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says the state's pandemic picture is improving. Hospitalizations are down 85-percent and long term care outbreaks are down 80-percent. She say the seven-day positivity rate is below five percent, and a half million Iowans have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.

Governor Reynolds says states have been told allocations will increase by another 2.5 million doses, starting next week. That means Iowa's weekly allotment will rise to nearly 62-thousand doses. Currently it's 49-thousand. Reynolds says Iowa ranks 26th in the nation in terms of vaccine distribution, at around 70-percent.

The states also learned this week a decision could come within weeks about the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, under review by the Food and Drug Administration. The company says once they receive approval, they plan to ship out a few million vaccine doses. Johnson & Johnson has said they have an ultimate goal of shipping 100-million doses across the country.

During a news conference today (Wednesday) Governor Reynolds clarified an earlier statement about a handful of Iowa counties not getting their allocated doses, if the county's vaccination rate was lagging. She says that was not meant to be a punitive action, but was aimed at allowing county health departments to catch up and ensure that doses are being given as soon as possible, and not being stored. She says going forward, all 99 counties will receive their promised allotments.

Reynolds says the state has decided not to hire Microsoft to develop a new online vaccination registration system, saying it would take too long. She says instead, they'll upgrade existing systems, including the 2-1-1 call system for those who do not have computer access. The Governor says Area Agencies on Aging may also be able to help residents having difficulty signing up for a vaccine.

Reynolds repeated her concerns about school children falling behind academically due to the pandemic. She says she supports student assessments to gauge that. Reynolds notes she's hopeful Iowa children will have maintained educational benchmarks, due to the fact most schools remained open during the pandemic.

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