State says it will only give out COVID-19 outbreak information when asked

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 7:11 AM CDT
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Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health say they will be giving out information about outbreaks at businesses only when reporters ask.

"We've been announcing them at these press conferences as the questions have been asked," Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter said during the Governor's May 27 COVID-19 press conference. "It also provides an opportunity for the business to independently, outside of having to do it at a press conference, to notify their communities as Perdue Farms did - it gave them the opportunity to take the lead in making that notification."

The state health department says not giving out this information allows businesses to tell workers first and start contact tracing.

The department confirmed outbreaks at Perdue Premium Meat company plants in Sioux Center and Sioux City on Tuesday. But the company confirmed outbreaks at those facilities back on May 11th.

Wednesday, the governor defended her staff for its work in getting information out to Iowans.

"It is about working hard every single day with an incredible team and an incredible group of state employees that are working 7 days a week and I'd like to say 10-hour days to do everything they can to keep Iowans safe," Reynolds said. "That has been our goal from the very beginning, and they are doing an incredible, incredible job, so as we have done along this entire process, we're working very hard to keep Iowans informed and try to let them know what is going on."

The governor said her team tries to be transparent but is always looking for ways do better. She said the state can look at utilizing local health departments to better inform Iowans.