Iowa public health leaders urge caution, vaccination as COVID cases trend upward

Public health officials say you need to be aware of increases in COVID cases this season, but not fear them.
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 5:44 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Public health officials say people need to be aware of increases in COVID cases this season, but not fear them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows more than half of Iowa’s counties have seen at least a “moderate” increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19 in the past week, compared to the week before.

At the same, Governor Kim Reynolds released a statement Wednesday saying COVID-19 mandates and restrictions will not happen in Iowa on her watch.

“Since news broke of COVID-19 restrictions being re-instated at some colleges and businesses across the U.S., concerned Iowans have been calling my office asking whether the same could happen here. My answer—not on my watch. In Iowa, government respects the people it serves and fights to protect their rights. I rejected the mandates and lockdowns of 2020, and my position has not changed.”

statement from Governor Kim Reynolds

TV9 reached out to the Governor’s Deputy Communications Director Kollin Crompton to ask why this statement was being released now.

“COVID is the #1 policy concern brought to our office over the past three weeks,” wrote Crompton.

TV9 then spoke to local health leaders to learn more about what the COVID landscape looks like in Iowa.

“We’re in a far better spot than we were March 8th of 2020,” said Sam Jarvis with Johnson County Public Health.

A better spot, but one in which COVID is a presence. The CDC reports, across the country, there’s been an 18.8% increase in hospital admissions this week, and a 21.4% increase in deaths.

“It’s really important for our neighbors to be aware of that, and be a good neighbor,” said Pramod Dwivedi, Health Director at Linn County Public Health.

Being a good neighbor will be a choice because of the Governor’s pledge to not instate any mandates or regulations.

Jarvis said, by now, people already know what to do: cover your cough, wash your hands, stay home when sick, but added “we’re unlikely to see mass requirements.” TV9 asked if that was for political reasons or because they wouldn’t be needed from a public health standpoint.

“You know, the unfortunate reality is that many of those became political. Certainly, I think there’s most of us in the public health field that see those as really necessary precautions,” said Jarvis.

Covid is no longer a reportable disease in Iowa, and so health departments no longer have real-time data, but they are still trying to make sure. people are staying safe this fall.

“That‘s all our job here, to educate public,” said Dwivedi. “This is for the good of the entire community.”