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WATCH NOW: 12 new COVID-19 deaths as Iowa businesses prepare to reopen

WATCH NOW: 12 new COVID-19 deaths as Iowa businesses prepare to reopen

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DES MOINES — The state recorded 386 new coronavirus cases and 12 new deaths Thursday as many restaurants, gyms, malls, barber shops and salons prepare to reopen Friday.

But Gov. Kim Reynolds devoted Thursday’s briefing to the toll COVID-19 is taking on the state’s 444 long-term care facilities, with 1,249 cases among residents and staff at 35 such facilities with documented coronavirus outbreaks.

The state currently shows three coronavirus outbreaks in Black Hawk County — 79 cases at Harmony House, 19 at Friendship Village and 12 at New Aldaya Lifescapes.

“Despite the aggressive mitigation measures we’ve taken across the state, we have seen the virus take hold in our facilities,” Reynolds said, noting 180 of the state’s 318 deaths, or 57% of the total, were among residents of long-term care facilities.

The coronavirus has been particularly deadly for Iowans older than 81. Although they represent less than 5% of those testing positive — around 661 individuals so far — they account for 148 of the deaths, nearly 47% of the state’s total.

But Reynolds noted a few facilities are seeing residents overcome the virus, saying 41 residents of Premiere Estates of Toledo in Tama County have recovered. She did not specify how many had died. That facility has recorded 52 cases, and Tama County has recorded 13 total deaths.

Reynolds said the state has made testing residents and staff of those facilities a priority, noting between state strike teams and TestIowa sites, 95% of those populations had taken at least one test. But she didn’t say if repeated testing of such residents or employees would occur.

“We know this is an incredibly difficult and frightening time,” said Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter. “Our hearts are with you, and we look forward to the day when family and friends can get back in.”

Testing

Also Thursday, Reynolds announced the State Hygienic Lab has successfully validated equipment for the TestIowa initiative and she hopes to “ramp up” testing to better track the coronavirus in Iowa.

Reynolds said the lab has determined the machines purchased for the TestIowa program are 95% accurate in detecting the virus in samples and 99.7% accurate in determining its absence.

So far, only 4,000 people have gotten results through Iowa’s month-old $26 million coronavirus testing contract, but that will increase rapidly now that the equipment has been validated, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Thursday.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” the governor told reporters, noting she expects the TestIowa sites and State Hygienic Lab will be able to process up to 5,000 tests per day now.

Reopening

Reynolds also noted she was hearing from some businesses allowed to open up Friday that won’t, and said it was on those businesses and customers to decide the best course of action.

“Iowans are going to take the responsibility to decide to participate,” Reynolds said. “(Coronavirus is) not gonna go away — it’s here until we find a vaccine — so we have to learn to live with it until a vaccine is approved by the FDA.”

Latest numbers

Black Hawk County officials have recorded 1,783 cases as well as 31 deaths.

Currently, 405 Iowans are hospitalized with coronavirus-related symptoms or illnesses and 386 Iowans have tested positive in the past day bringing that statewide total to 13,675.

All told, 13,902 Iowans have tested positive for coronavirus in 95 of the state’s 99 counties, and 319 deaths have been recorded in 34 counties. The state has the 15th-highest infection rate per capita among all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Three counties have infection rates over 2% of their populations: Louisa, Tama and Woodbury counties. Another four counties are over 1% — Black Hawk, Crawford, Marshall and Muscatine counties.

Allamakee County added two cases for a total of 115 cases and four deaths. Benton County added one case for a total of 36 cases and one death.

Bremer County added two cases for a total of 62 cases and five deaths. The state has recorded one outbreak in the county, with 30 cases at Bartels Lutheran.

Buchanan County added one case for a total of 24 cases. Butler County added one case for a total of 13 cases.

Floyd County added three cases for a total of nine cases and one death. Grundy County added two cases for a total of 18 cases.

Tama County added three cases for a total of 348 cases and 13 deaths. In addition to Premiere Estates, the state has recorded one other outbreak in the county, with 27 cases at Westbrook Acres.

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