UPDATE Sept. 25, 2020: Iowa now has reported a record high 50 nursing home outbreaks, with 1,306 deaths statewide, including 679 deaths connected to long-term care facilities.
In less than two months, coronavirus outbreaks at Iowa nursing homes have nearly doubled, as Gov. Kim Reynolds continues to resist recommendations to issue a statewide mask mandate.
As of Wednesday, Sept. 23, COVID-19 outbreaks were reported at 41 Iowa long-term care centers, up from 22 at the beginning of August.
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The escalation, and related deaths, are tied to community transmission, according to the White House coronavirus task force, which last week recommended that Iowa impose a statewide mask mandate.
“COVID-19 is being brought into nursing homes through community transmission,” the report noted.
Rather than issue a mandate, Reynolds has repeatedly insisted that Iowans “will do the right thing” regarding the use of face masks, which experts say can reduce the spread of coronavirus and prevent deaths.
Iowa had recorded 82,006 positive cases and 1,293 COVID-19 deaths as of Sept. 23, with more than half — 674 deaths– tied to nursing homes.
At the same time, hospitalizations also are on the rise, with 301 Iowans hospitalized, up from 285 reported Sept. 22; 77 in the Intensive Care Unit, up from 72 the previous day, 59 admitted to the hospital, up from 37 the day before and 37 on ventilators, up from 34 reported Sept. 22.
Nationwide, the U.S. surpassed 200,000 coronavirus deaths this week.
Iowa remains one of a dwindling number of states to not require face masks to control the spread of coronavirus or to allow cities or counties to issue their own mandates.
While Cedar Rapids and other Iowa cities have issued mask proclamations, Reynolds, who claims to be “pro-life,” has repeatedly pushed back and stated that those orders are unenforceable.