DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A week before Gov. Kim Reynolds officially makes all adult Iowans eligible for coronavirus vaccinations, public health officials acknowledged Monday that some counties have already started providing the shots to everyone over age 16.
“IDPH is aware that some counties and providers may have moved to vaccinating Iowans over the age of 16 this week because they have available doses to do so. The goal of the Iowa Department of Public Health has always been to get as many Iowans vaccinated as quickly as possible," said department spokeswoman Sarah Ekstrand.
In northwest Iowa's Humboldt County, for example, public health officials announced they would hold mass vaccination clinics on Wednesday and Thursday for anyone age 16 and up. Public health officials said they have 650 doses of the Pfizer vaccine available.
Appointments were required and confirmed on a first-come-first-served basis for the clinics to be held at the county fairgrounds.
Reynolds has said she anticipates opening up vaccine availability to all adults on April 5 as national supplies and the allocation of doses to states increases.
As of Monday, Iowa was eighth in the nation for the percentage of the entire state population fully vaccinated at 19%, or 598,935 people out of a total state population of about 3.1 million. Nationally, 15.8% of the U.S. population is vaccinated or about 52.6 million people.
Iowa, like many states, is seeing a recent increase in virus activity. On Monday, the head of the CDC made an impassioned plea for Americans not to let their guard down in the fight against COVID-19, saying she was dreading a potential new surge of cases.
Speaking during a virtual White House briefing, Dr. Rochelle Walensky grew emotional as she reflected on her experience treating COVID-19 patients who are alone at the end of their lives.
“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope,” she said. “But right now, I’m scared.”
She advised people to continue wearing masks in public and practicing other measures to protect against the spread of the virus.
Nationally, cases of the virus are up about 10% over the past week, to about 60,000 cases per day, with both hospitalizations and deaths ticking up as well, Walensky said.
The Secretary of the Senate notified Iowa Capitol workers that a person associated with the Senate tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. The individual was last in the building on Thursday, and is at least the seventh Capitol worker to have tested positive.
The identity of those testing positive is not routinely released by legislative branch officials, and Republican leaders do not require lawmakers to reveal positive results.
Rep. Amy Nielsen of North Liberty said she was among those infected in late January, marking the first known case of an Iowa lawmaker sickened by the virus during the legislative session. She said she believes she was infected at the Capitol.
She said Monday that she has not yet returned to the legislature and she is still struggling with some symptoms.
Republican leaders never imposed a mask mandate.
Iowa on Monday reported 110 new confirmed cases and seven additional deaths. The state's seven-day rate of positive coronavirus cases increased to 4.7%.
State public health officials reported 196 people in hospitals and 44 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.