Iowa to end COVID-19 Emergency February 15
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Governor Kim Reynolds compared the future of COVID-19 to the flu in announcing she will end her Public Health Disaster Emergency Proclamation on February 15th and again change the public reporting of COVID-19 cases.
The disaster order has dwindled in impact since it first took effect in March 2020. At one point, it forced bars and gyms to close and suspended state laws to allow public health agencies and hospitals to respond to COVID-19. The 16 remaining provisions of the order primarily focus on workforce issues that Reynolds says are now best addressed outside of an emergency order.
“We cannot continue to suspend duly enacted laws and treat COVID-19 as a public health emergency indefinitely,” Reynolds said. “After two years, it’s no longer feasible or necessary. The flu and other infectious illnesses are part of our everyday lives, and coronavirus can be managed similarly.”
The most noticeable change to ending the order now will be changes to how COVID-19 cases are reported publicly. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard and vaccine websites will cease to exist on February 16th. That’s where the state has published updates three times a week and logs historical data on cases, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.
Instead, Iowa Department of Public Health will issue a weekly report on COVID-19 on its website, similar to how it updates flu surveillance. That report will include positive tests and deaths since March 2020, cases by county, an epidemiologic curve, variants by week and vaccination data.
“While our COVID-19 reporting will look different, Iowans should rest assured that the state health department will continue to review and analyze COVID-19 and other public health data daily, just as we always have,” stated Kelly Garcia, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). “The new format will include data points that Iowans are used to seeing, but moves us closer to existing reporting standards for other respiratory viruses.”
Iowa will also report COVID-19 data to the CDC as required for its data tracker and state-level reports.
Test Iowa will also continue to operate with the State Hygienic lab processing at-home test results.
Governor Reynolds’ office noted that states are not required to have a public health emergency order to qualify for federal relief programs connected to COVID-19 and that nearly half of U.S. states have already ended public health proclamations.
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