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Gov. Reynolds announces longterm care facilities may have visitors soon

 Gov. Kim Reynolds talks about the most recent developments in Iowa's COVID-19 response at her news conference Wednesday morning, May 27, 2020. (WOWT)
Gov. Kim Reynolds talks about the most recent developments in Iowa's COVID-19 response at her news conference Wednesday morning, May 27, 2020. (WOWT) (WOWT)
Published: Jun. 4, 2020 at 10:12 AM CDT
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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds held an update on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, with the announcement guidelines will be released later today on how longterm care facilities may reopen for visits.

Longterm care facility guidelines

Reynolds said as the state continues to increase testing and monitoring capabilities for the coronavirus while also reopening businesses to restore the economy, guidelines will be released soon so longterm care facilities may resume having visitors.

"As life gets gradually back to normal... Iowans have been asking when they will be reunited with loved ones again," Reynolds said.

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services has been at work in cooperation with longterm care associations to allow visits again at such facilities.

Dr. Caitlin Pedati, Iowa's public health director, said the guidelines will detail visits, dining practices, and trips outside the facility for residents among other situations.

"We will be working with groups of facilities across Iowa with staff testing on a regular basis," Pedati said.

Testing capacity

Reynolds opened the briefing with an update on the state's testing capacity with a review of how much testing has expanded over the previous two months.

In March a total of 10,714 tests were done with a 7.1 percent positivity rate. In May, the number soared to 124,949 tests completed in the month.

"Of course, our efforts have not been without challenges. Test results were delayed during the validation process (for the types of tests being used) but now we are meeting or exceeding the three day time wait for results," Reynolds said.

Work is continuing to expand Test Iowa's footprint to reach more communities, she added.

Unemployment drops

Reynolds announced in the past week there has been a 50 percent decrease in initial unemployment benefit claims.

, the number of initial claims in Iowa filed between May 24 and May 30 was 6,920. In the week of May 17 to May 23, there were 13,653 initial claims.

The number of continuing claims has dropped from 205,000 in early May to about 172,000 according to the most recent data, she said.

"This shows more Iowans are getting back to work and life is getting back to normal. Iwa's economy is showing resilience," she said. "It's early in recovery from COVID-19 but this is good news."

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