Iowa has replaced Texas, Florida, and Arizona as the nation’s COVID-19 hot spot, with the highest rate of infections and an almost 11% positive testing rate, according to the Des Moines Register.
Earlier this week, White House coronavirus task force leaders urged Iowa’s governor Kim Reynolds to issue a statewide mask mandate, close bars in 61 counties, and test all returning college and university students in the state. Reynolds has yet to issue a statewide mask mandate and so far has closed bars in only 6 counties.
Some cities with high transmission, including Ames—the home of Iowa State University— are starting to pass their own mask mandates.
Reynolds, a Republican, has said she does not believe mask mandates are enforceable. And some state political leaders, including Iowa’s US Senator Joni Ernst, have embraced conspiracy theories about the severity of the virus, including the popular QAnon theory that only 10,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 infections.
Ernst also said this week that doctors who code deaths as due to COVID-19 are reimbursed at a higher rate, a popular conspiracy theory that has been circulating since early spring.
Yesterday the United States recorded 43,253 new COVID-19 cases, and 1,067 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. In total the US has 6,088,187 cases and 184,803 fatalities.
Iowa recorded 479 cases yesterday, with a statewide percent positive rate of 10.3%.
HHS cancels orders for ventilators
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) canceled all remaining orders on ventilators and said the national stockpile is at maximum capacity, with almost 120,000 machines ready to be deployed if needed, the Associated Press reports.
The terminated contracts mean 38,000 fewer ventilators will be delivered to the National Strategic Stockpile by the end of the year.
NIH says convalescent plasma data insufficient
In other news, the National Institutes of Health said there is not enough data to recommend for or against the use of convalescent plasma for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Last week, President Donald Trump and Food and Drug Administration Head Stephen Hahn, MD, announced an emergency use authorization for the plasma.
“There are currently no data from well-controlled, adequately powered randomized clinical trials that demonstrate the efficacy and safety of convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID-19,” the NIH said. The NIH said the initial data from the Mayo Clinic showed no difference in mortality outcomes among intubated patients who did or did not receive plasma.
CDC bans evictions, tells states to prep for early vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today it was using the Public Health Service Act to ban rental evictions in the United States due to the coronavirus pandemic. The ban on evictions would last through December, and would apply to people who have lost their job due to the virus.
Evictions, the CDC said, lead to overcrowding in single family homes and in shelters, which contributes to the spread of COVID-19.
In other CDC news, McClatchy reports today that CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, sent a letter to governors last week urging them to do everything in their power to prepare vaccine distribution sites by Nov 1.
The letter was dated Aug 27 and told governors to fast-track permits and licenses for new distribution sites.
Three vaccine candidates have recently started phase 3 trials in the United States, but some experts worry that the planned Nov 1 start of vaccine distribution is a blatant political attempt by the Trump administration to garner favor days before the presidential election.