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Reynolds: State on target to open COVID-19 vaccine to all Iowans on April 5

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds
Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 10:41 AM CDT
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JOHNSTON, Iowa (WOWT) - Gov. Kim Reynolds opened her Wednesday news conference offering sympathies for the families of the nurse and corrections officer killed Tuesday morning at Anamosa State Penitentiary.

The governor said a 3 p.m. news conference was planned to provide more details on the incident.

In her update on the state’s COVID-19 response, Reynolds said Wednesday that Iowa has administered 1.33 million vaccination doses — or 86.6% vaccine of its allocations — ranking the state fifth in the nation on that metric.

More than 517,000 Iowans are fully vaccinated, she said.

Of those eligible Iowans who are ages 18 and older, the governor said, 21.3% have received a single COVID-19 vaccine dose, ranking the state sixth in the nation; 35% of those ages 18 and older have had one or more doses, ranking Iowa 16th in the nation; and 82% ages 65 and older have received at least one dose.

That last metric, previously reported to be at 95%, represented a significant decrease due to a revised calculation in the state’s datasheets, Reynolds said. The worksheet error had caused “a noticeable difference” between the state and CDC data on this metric, she said, because Iowa was using Census data to calculate its “age-specific results” while the CDC was using population estimates.

“Some variability will continue to exist between the reports,” the governor said.

Reynolds said the White House notified governors that vaccine allocations are expected to pick up next week. Iowa expects to receive 25,000 more doses for a total of 280,000 doses of vaccine weekly. That total also includes 18,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine intended for employer clinics already scheduled to start Monday.

J&J allocations are expected to be even larger starting the week of April 5, “and that should continue increasing during the weeks after that,” Reynolds said, who said she was among several governors on a call with Johnson & Johnson executives, who are “making every single effort to make every projection.”

That boost means the state remains on schedule to open COVID-19 vaccinations to all Iowans beginning Monday, April 5, the governor said.

Iowans are advised that demand for vaccines will exceed supply at first, just as it has every time the state has expanded vaccine eligibility.

“So please be patient,” she said. “As our weekly allocations continue to increase, so will the number of appointments available, and soon there will be enough vaccine for everyone.”

The state has scheduled 4,000 vaccine appointments through 211, initially provided for Iowans ages 65 and older, partnering with Hy-Vee to get them vaccinated at the closest store pharmacy to get them scheduled. CPN Pharmacy Network will also be participating as the state expands access to 211 to more age groups in coming weeks.

Those needing a ride to a vaccination appointment will also be able to contact their local public transit agency in their area to schedule transportation.

Reaching out to minorities

With concerns being raised on the racial disparities of COVID-19 and vaccinations occurring in the majority of states, Iowa will continue its efforts to increase health literacy, access, and outcomes in those communities, Reynolds said. One way that manifests is working with trusted community leaders and organizations to set up clinics, such as one planned Saturday in Polk County with hopes of scaling such events across the state.

According to self-reported data from Iowans receiving a COVID-19 vaccination, 1% are African-Americans; 1.6% identify as Hispanic or Latino; but up to 19% indicated “unknown” race and ethnicity.

“So while it’s challenging to know exactly where we stand, we know absolutely that we still have work to do to reach those communities,” Reynolds said.

The state has reached out to United Way organizations to expand vaccination efforts, particularly to minority communities, she said. Iowa 211 also has been a valuable resource for those whose first language is not English.

Housing assistance programs

Monday, the state will open online applications for financial assistance for mortgages and qualifying renters who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

The Iowa Rent and Utility Assistance Program has received federal funding and can now provide eligible COVID-19 impacted renters with monthly rent and utility bills for up to 12 months, including past-due payments later than March 13, 2020, or up to three months of future expected expenses.

To qualify, applicants must have a reported income of no more than 80% of area’s median income. Also, at least one person in the household must be qualified for unemployment or have experienced a significant pay cut, incurred significant costs, or endured some other financial hardship. Applicants must also be able to demonstrate a risk of homelessness or housing instability, from late fees to eviction notices.

Renters are asked to submit their eligibility pre-check at iowahousingrecovery.com. They will then be prompted to gather the documentation needed to submit a full application on Monday. They will also be advised to notify their landlords and utility providers of their intent to submit the full application as all affected parties are required to submit information in order to receive payments from the program.

Mortgage assistance will also be available until the funds are exhausted or until the federal program becomes available.

Other topics

Reynolds addressed questions on Iowa’s gun laws saying she has held steady in her comments on the topic since she was in the Senate. She said she would continue to take a look at new legislation as it is presented.

“I’ve been very consistent in my messaging on that,” she said.

The bill would roll back some current restrictions on handgun sales and use in Iowa, and would eliminate the need to obtain a permit to buy a handgun or carry it in public. It would also mean no background checks would be required unless buying from a federally licensed dealer.

“I’ve been pretty clear that when we’re talking about gun violence we need to take a holistic approach,” the governor said. “There’s not a single answer. We need to be following the laws that are on the books. We need to make sure that coordination is in place between the agencies. We need to do everything we can to be proactive, and just address mental health issues.”

Watch Wednesday’s news conference

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Press Conference | March 24, 2021, 11:15 a.m.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Press Conference | March 24, 2021, 11:15 a.m.

Posted by Governor Kim Reynolds on Wednesday, March 24, 2021

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