tv Iowa Gov. Reynolds Holds Coronavirus Briefing CSPAN December 22, 2020 5:45pm-6:25pm EST
watch it live on c-span, on the go at c-span.org or listen using the free c-span radio at. -- radio app. ♪ you are watching c-span, your unfiltered view of government. c-span was created by america's cable television companies in 1979. today, we are brought to you by these television companies that provide c-span viewers as a public service. >> next, kim reynolds holds a briefing in johnston on the states response to the coronavirus pandemic and distribution of the covid-19 vaccine. this is 40 minutes. >> good morning. iowa continues to experience
decline in covid-19 cases, positivity rate, and hospitalizations. over the last 14 days, the statewide positivity rate was 12.6 percent and only 32 counties had rates of 15% or higher. over the last seven days, the statewide average positivity rate was 9.5%. 11 counties had rates at or above 15%. 88 counties are below that. during that same timeframe, iowa ranked 35th nationally in the number of new covid cases and 39th in the average daily case rate per 100,000 population. hospitalizations continue to trend down and are approaching pre-november levels. iowans are never covered. cases and long-term care facilities have shown improvement with cases among long-term care residents decreasing and staff destabilizing over the next few
weeks. 8400ly, more than health-care workers have been vaccinated in iowa. and all doses that were allocated were received as scheduled. there is also good news coming from washington, d.c., where congress finally passed a $900 billion relief package to support american families and businesses which now awaits the president's signature. in addition to direct payments, unappointed benefits, and funding for the paycheck protection program, the package also provides support for vaccine funding, education, broadband, and more. the bill also extends the deadline for states to use the coronavirus relief fund year, byn for one december 31 of 2021. this will allow us to put iowa's remaining balance into a program
that will make a positive difference for iowans. this weekend, yet another important milestone in the nation's covid-19 recovery occurred with the fda approval of the moderna vaccine. the addition of the second vaccine will increase the number of doses that are immediately available for the first phase of vaccinations. it will keep us moving forward. distribution of the vaccine began immediately upon final approval friday and started arriving in iowa yesterday. because the moderna vaccine does not require ultracold storage, it is able to be distributed to rural areas across the state. are receiving an allocation of the moderna vaccine in this first sit -- shipment. joinedi am pleased to be by jason harrington, president and ceo of lakes regional health
lake, where they are expecting the arrival of the moderna vaccine today and plan to start vaccinating hospital staff right away. jason, thanks for joining us today. it is an exciting day for your community and your hospital staff. tell us what this means for everyone. jason: governor reynolds, thank you for having me today. we are expecting the shipments to arrive around noon. which expecting 300 doses is what was communicated and another 200 doses next week. the intention of the first wave of vaccinations was really aimed at health-care workers as you suggested earlier. the moderna vaccine, the other that is the pfizer vaccine
logistics ofthe trying to get 1000 doses out in a short time is difficult. there are two positive effects on rural communities. we are expecting 300 today, 200 next week. i was excited, about this. we did an internal survey of the staff to see who would be willing to take the vaccine if it were offered and we had a 75% affirmative response. we were pleased with that. vaccinateocally is to health care professionals. that includes physicians, nurses , food service workers, receptionists. anybody that comes face-to-face with patients throughout the day in tier one.
we intend to start getting the vaccine today. we have a vaccination clinic tomorrow. we are very excited about that. the tier one is patient health care providers in the unity. that would be people like ophthalmologists, dentists, and those types of people that are patient-facing staff. once that group has been vaccinated, we will come back and do the non-patient staff with folks in the business office. those that are directly interacting with patients. our hope is that by next week, we have vaccinated the vast majority of health care providers and they can move on to phase two.
my understanding is that it includes firefighters, teachers, law enforcement. there is lots of excitement around here about the ability to move forward with vaccinations. i need to acknowledge governor reynolds and the state support not just getting the vaccine out, but we have partnered with the state. we prevent hospitalizations and we are grateful for that. we are grateful for that. we have seen a spike late in the year. our numbers are trending down. unfortunately, inpatient numbers are trending up due to some spikes in nursing homes.
certainly the vaccine will take us a long way in our fight against covid and we are grateful for that. we are excited to start vaccinating members of our community very soon. gov. reynolds: that is a great update and it demonstrates what is happening in rural iowa. we want to show how rural hospitals are receiving their allocations of the vaccine and how they are moving forward. i want to thank you and your colleagues for working with your public health department and the state to coordinate this public effort, and for everything you have done to care for your community. i appreciate that very much. the numbers, the therapeutics, all of that has been a real coordinated effort. thank you for your role in that. >> you're welcome, thank you. gov. reynolds: -- set off a
-- thank you. you saw last week, the federal government identified a number of states including iowa where vaccine allocations will be less than what was initially projected. this set off a confusing chain of reactions across the nation, including here at home, causing widespread concern we would not be able to meet the immediate vaccination needs. there was concern there would be delays in vaccinations for long-term care. as we are gathering more information, our intent was to find a way to continue moving forward as planned with priority groups understanding that some changes would likely be necessary. throughout last week, the iowa department of public health remained in very close contact with federal partners to
determine how iowa's allocation would change and what adjustments would need to be made as a result of that. as i am sure you are aware, over the weekend, the chief operating operation warp speed apologized and took full responsibility for an unintentional planning ever -- error that caused vaccine doses to be over allocated to some states. deploying the vaccine strategy has been and will continue to be a monumental effort. this is true not only at the state and local level, but the national level as well. there are bound to be bumps in the road as we head down this new path. it is important to keep in mind that while receiving less vaccine than initially estimated is disappointing, it does not change the fact that at this moment, iowans are being vaccinated. two vaccines are being allocated in the u.s., changing the course of the pandemic as we speak. in a matter of months, vaccines
will be more widely available and life will return to normal. as we saw months ago when we launched large-scale testing through testiowa, it takes time for things to ramp up and move smoothly. we will likely experience the same as we broaden the scope of vaccinations across the state of iowa as well. i think we owe it to each other to assume good intent for these efforts and to give each other some grace while we navigate another new phase of recovery. due to the decrease in allocations, the federal government is allowing greater flexibility in our participation in the long term pharmacy care partnership by reducing the minimum threshold of vaccine
required to participate in the program. that means we will remain on schedule to start vaccinating long-term care residents and staff the week of december 28, and have activated our participation in a similar program for residents in assisted living facilities. this week, the cdc's advisory panel recommended the second phase of vaccination should prioritize adults aged 75 and older, and front line of essential workers including first responders, teachers, and those who work in manufacturing. kelly garcia is with us today. she will provide more details about the steps she and her team have taken to adjust iowa's plants since learning of the change, and the role the advisory council will play in planning and decisions for upcoming vaccination phases. kelly? >> thank you governor for having me.
good morning. i am delighted to share with you an update on our states vaccine to tradition. -- state's vaccine distribution. as the governor shared, more than 8400 vaccines have been administered in iowa. this number is ahead of date. -- is assuredly out of date as we speak. you likely saw the fda approved the moderna vaccine which adds an additional tool to our distribution. we are on track for distribution this week and next. health-care settings including hospitals and clinics will receive shipments directly as allocated by public health authorities in partnership with our department. you may recall the moderna vaccine does not have the ultracold storage requirements, which does allow for further reach. we learned new information in key differences that i will mention. moderna has been approved for individuals 18 years and older, whereas pfizer is intended for 16 years and older.
another distinction is that the two doses of moderna are to be administered 28 days apart, instead of 21, with a best practice range of plus or minus four days. the federal advisory committee on immunization practices met to provide further guidance. while we continue on our path to vaccinate the initial priority groups of health care professionals, long-term care residents and staff, we are looking at the next groups. phase one b will prioritize front-line workers and individuals 75 years or older. phase 1-c, adults 65 to 74, and individual 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions such as intellectual and development disabilities, autoimmune disorders, or other serious underlying health conditions.
to be clear, we are still in the early stages. our efforts are focused solely on health-care workers. iowa's version of this group, the infectious disease council continues to meet and met yesterday where they discussed and identified potential groups to prioritize that were not included in the recommendations . such as low income workers who may have limited access to health care and be at high risk due to workplace settings and other social determinants. individuals experiencing homelessness. individuals with disabilities. and community based spiritual workers. the possibility of sub pasteurization identified by this. includes looking at disease trends, vaccination uptake and
vaccine allocation protections. we will continue to ride -- provide updates and final recommendations. we have excepted all of the group recommendations in full. regarding our allocation numbers, we will continue to provide updates if there are changes. right now, we appear to be fully on track with the total numbers we provided last week. the team is meeting with the cdc to confirm that that is the case. we released a statement about the change in a location for states, taking full responsibility. i commend him for that. theegan as director of department of humans services. in a system this large work humans are taking care of humans, we will inevitably make mistakes but we will acknowledge them, correct them and build a
path forward. we are moving forward. happy to share that over -- weerm -- our long-term will go live as originally planned next monday, december 20. our federal partners have provided additional electability for this. this flexibility is why we have been able to keep on schedule with our launch of the program. even though initial allocations have adjusted. this additional flexibility is allowing us to move forward with the national pharmacy partnership program. have been given approval by our federal partners to begin on monday, december 20. this will provide some cigna megan fox ability for operations and logistics. especially when you think about
the way that facilities are structured. they often have long-term care facilities. i want to thank our team for effortsound-the-clock and their ability to change really quickly. i also want to think our hospital partners. we also have our partners at local public health. each authority has undertaken a monumental effort that is critical to the state recovery. they have done an outstanding job navigating this in real time. lastly, i want to share that we have great news of the federal level. congress just passed a new covid relief package. i am happy to share a few highlights of these provisions. these are little bit more on the humans services side then what the governor shared.
there was vaccine funding including procurement and distribution, providing roughly $20 billion for procurement of vaccines and therapeutics. nearly 9 billion to the cdc and more than 3 billion for the strategic national stockpile. they provide more than 22 billion for testing, tracing and covid mitigation programs. of this total, 2.5 million will inset up for grants underserved areas including communities of color and rural america. this 4.5 billion in mental health funding, 9 billion in direct payments to health care providers and one billion indirect funds to the indiana health service to carry out the services. $10bill also includes billion in emergency funding for child care. these funds may change the possibility skim to states and
can be used to provide childcare assistance to families and to help childcare providers cover their increased operating costs throughout the pandemic. they will also include $250 million per head start providers. finally, food assistance, the bill includes $13 billion in increased snap benefits to 15% above the original allotment, providing additional funding to food banks and see unity -- senior nutrition programs and making sure that cow students have access to this as well. these changes will ensure that our state continues to support iowans who support -- who experience food insecurity. we are forwarding through the bill, six thousand pages on what our portion will be. this is a very exciting process. we will keep you updated on this.
>> thank you, kelly. i just want to recognize the tremendous amount of effort your team has put into adjust while we prepare for a second vaccine to arrive in iowa. it is an all hands on deck effort and i am so impressed as i said earlier with the collaboration and coordination happening at every single level from local public health to health care providers statewide as well as our federal partners. as kelly mentioned, long-term care residents and staff will begin being vaccinated week. that is some of the best news we can hope for this holiday season. one thing was very clear from the onset of this pandemic, that is that long-term care facilities post a very high risk of the virus being introduced there. that is my proactive planning was done early on to protect long-term care resident and aggressively primitive measures
were implemented almost immediately once the first positive case was confirmed in iowa. it is no surprise that one of the first long-term care facilities to take action was the iowa veterans health. that provides continuing care for veterans and their spouses. it is the largest nursing home and one of the largest eight veterans home in the nation. their quick response and ongoing commitment to protecting their residents has resulted in some incredible outcomes. with vaccination starting next week, the home residents and staff are looking forward to writer days ahead. here to share more about the work that has gone on the last several months and how they are now preparing to begin vaccination is the commandant of the iowa veterans home. >> thank you you, governor.
the great support you have provided to all of long-term care facilities throughout iowa and specifically the veterans of --a is been impressed as the unprecedented. you make sure we had sufficient ppe by establishing a supply chain where we received ppe transported to our door by the national guard and testing supplies delivered by the iowa state highway patrol. we appreciate the efforts that have gone into this. today, i want to tell you how extremely proud i am of the frontline heroes that are caring for all of our heroes. you have a team of dedicated workers who have tirelessly worked together to meet the care needs of all of our residents, even when 120 of their peers were off work due to exposure outside of our doors. our success is due to these heroes. staff in every area of our facility has changed the way they do business to ensure that
all residents are safe. i have never heard one staff person complain about wearing all day longgles and being tested twice a week. the administrative team and covid response team have met every day to ensure that our practices are current with the guidance from our partners at the iowa department of public dia, cdc and cms. we immediately changed how we are staffing our nursing units and how they deliver product and services from laundry, food, services, central supply, alsokeeping, pharmacy and staff that entered a building that was not permanently assigned there. this way that caregivers could concentrate on the delivery of care. soset up chat room visits that families could hug their
loved ones in a safe manner. we provided daily communications to our families and changed the way we communicate with families through facetime and other social media sites. doctors and mental health appointments became virtual. we adopted and learned how to ensure that our veterans were cared for. we learned how to complete covid testing. 15,000we have run over covid tests. to date, we had 21 of our 5000 residents contracted the virus. the covid unit was staffed voluntarily. some of our residents called it a five star hotel. it is truly one team, one fight, one mission. our vaccine is coming. we have partnered with walgreens to deliver the pfizer vaccine. in army combat medic served in iraq. we know this is a great step to getting beyond the virus.
we cannot wait for a residents to spend time with their loved ones as they have prior to this pandemic. hope is around the corner. we had never been in this battle alone. our community made cloth face masks. fairway sent supplies for special meals for our residents. the veterans organizations donated snacks and ipads and much more. those decorated our courtyard for christmas. decorated ours courtyard for christmas. i cannot begin to thank every organization who stepped up. we will never be the same. we will be grateful and stronger and closer. we could not have done this without the backing of the governor's office and expertise of our infection control. we are grateful to you, governor
reynolds. thank you. one team, one fight, one mission. you and your team have done such an outstanding job throughout the pandemic. thank you for your service and your service to our veterans and families. i want to ask you to please thank your staff for all of us. i wish them and their residents a very merry christmas. christmas is just a few days away. while we are doing what we can to maintain our usual holiday traditions, they will undoubtedly be different this year. just as so many celebrations have been. when i spoke to the state on the evening of november 16, just were, our covid-19 cases at a record high and our hospitals were being pushed to their capacity. i asked i was to be part of the solution, to reverse the course
of the virus and you stepped up. theiramilies adjusted thanksgiving plans, smaller gatherings reduced the risk of spreading the virus and it works. unlike other states across the nation, we did not experience the first holiday spike in new cases. in fact, since thanksgiving, our numbers have continued to decline. we made good progress in getting the virus to a more manageable level. we have adjusted our behaviors to be in line with public health guidelines. it is more than worth the effort. now we have an opportunity to continue this trend and keep virus activity at a level we can live with while making sure our businesses are open and our children can return to the classrooms after the holidays. vaccines are here and before too long, more iowans will be rolling up their sleeves to be vaccinated, helping our state more fully recover from the pandemic. until then, we can't forget that the virus is still active in our communities.
continue to social distance, wear a mask. avoid large gatherings, wash her hands and stayur home when you are sick. as you gather with loved ones in the coming days, please celebrate responsibly. be mindful of the people you're with. like so many of you, i am eager to turn the calendar ahead and move beyond the challenges we have endured. with it of a new sense of hope and optimism. despite the uncertainty of the last year, one thing has always remained constant. the willingness of iowans to come together and work toward a common goal. i want to thank every eye when for being a part of our covid-19 response. we want to ask you to continue to be part of our recovery. as we enter the new year, let's focus on moving forward together
, strengthening our community, growing our economy and creating opportunities for all iowans. i wish you and your family a happy and healthy and hope filled year. god bless you and the great state of iowa. with that, we will open up to questions. >> some of the republican legislators have indicated a willingness to use some of the state's surplus on pandemic relief. what will your proposal before the legislature? >> we have to look at the dollars we are receiving. as i talked about some of the significant allocations, kelly talked about what the department of health and human services and the department of public health will be able to utilize. i think we need to be responsible about seeing how we can allocate both funds where the gaps and barriers are at and seeing if we needed to do something moving forward. we will continue to review it and look at where the needs are at. we will adjust accordingly.
we have to remember that while the state of iowa really is in great fiscal health when you consider the year we just went through, whether it is covid-19 what hit aght or majority of our state, we are not through covid-19. we have to monitor very carefully and see what the impact is to revenues and to the state. we have to be mindful of that as well. about how be mindful we replenish them. we have to continue to see what the numbers are and see how we theable to respond to additional measures with covid-19. so far, i am really happy with where we are at. our employment continues to tick down. we are one of the few states that had a surplus. we do have the luxury that a lot of other states did not have to see if there were some areas stop some gaps.
8400 health care workers were vaccinated. >> we talked about the reallocation in the numbers and how they have taken credit for that. we will continue to work through with the numbers look like and how we can follow through with phase one. we are in the process of doing that. >> the pharmacists have these and they're going to the long-term care facilities -- is that right? >> the partnership we find with walgreens, cvs and committee partners, they are not just repeating, they are just administering the vaccines to the long-term care. residents, staff and now with the flexibility because of the
reallocation and the number of doses we were supposed to receive, have provided some flexibility. as kelly indicated, a lot of the facilities have long-term care. it'll allow us to be more strategic in how we implement the vaccine. i think it will streamline the process. i wanted to let the media know that when we come back, we have reached out to representation for our pharmacies to participate in the next press conference we have so that they can walk through how they are going to implement the long-term care pharmacy partnership that is in place with federal government. -- has thatone b improved or is that discussed? >> i believe the recommendations have been given to kelly but i will let kelly answer that, i
don't want to mess that up. but that is the a d.c. guidance, not ours. >> there were recommendations provided at the federal level. a slide presentation available on the cdc website that i would be happy to point you to. it outlines at a high level the categories. now we are thinking about whether it needs to be further sub-prioritized or if there are individuals missing in that list that might be iowa specifically -- specific, like meatpacking plants. >> does that cover that whole batch or are you saying that you have to come from within? >> it will take some amount of time. we have some numbers that will let us know how long it will take out -- take to roll out in these particular industries. we are looking to get more clarity.
>> as i said, we have to show some grace because there has been some movement but we are all focused on accomplished on the -- a compass and a common goal. aca compass and -- complishing the common goal. >> what about your commute occasion with the trump administration about the reduction of our vaccine supply? can you explain why we are not getting as much as we had hoped? do you expect it to catch up down the road or does it just delay immunizations 20% until we eventually get everyone who wants one. >> i have not talked to them personally, kelly and her team talk to them on a daily basis but as i indicated earlier, the general stepped up earlier this
week. ethic it were a couple -- i i think it was- a couple of a dozen states that were impacted. they incorrectly allocated the number of doses that 20 states were about to receive. we were part of that. as we were told what the new allocations would be, in addition to that, we were also given some flexibility which allowed us to go ahead and move forward. evenre not sure if we were going to be able to start the long-term care facilities because of the flexibility and not having to hold back a certain percentage. we were able to go ahead and start long-term care facilities the week of the 28th. we are adjusting. wehink we will learn more as
move forward. we will be sure to keep you all informed as to what those numbers look like and how we respond to working through phase one and as we move into phase two. we had a lot of people on brooks jackson, a lot of individuals, the president, vice lady, the surgeon general is taking the vaccine, it is safe. we will encourage people to take the vaccine and we will start a communication effort to do some different psa's and talk about how effective the vaccine is. we would encourage people to take the vaccine. >> how firm will you be about taking schools come back into session? >> we have seen a number of schools request to go online for a while. >> our trends are moving in the
right direction. i think i have made it pretty clear that i would be on the side of the parents and the students. itwant to make sure we do safely and responsibly. i think the data supports that the kids need to be in school for so many reasons. i have gone through it multiple times. legislation,o take that will be one of the number one priorities as we move forward. we need to get the kids back in school and recognize the majority of the school districts. >> i think the cdc came out with a report that many school districts would need tens of theions of dollars for extra ppe, the cleaning. thehere is funding in second stimulus after that includes funding for that. ify have the opportunity they are not in school and then they are not using it. they should sam -- they should
have some ppe available. schools need additional ppe, all they have to do is request that through homeland security. and the calls i have made to the intendants across the state -- it could change but i remind them that there is not just an automatic low -- allocation going out. i think there is additional funding in cares. we are unpacking that to see what that looks like but the stockpile we have in place at homeland security is significant. we want to be sure to be a partner in helping do whatever withn, just like we did the long-term care facilities. we provided them with 30 days of ppe so we can get them to the stabilization numbers that we need. we will work with them in order to get that done. thank you.