Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Public Health Disaster Emergency Proclamation will end Feb. 15, she announced Thursday.
She first issued the proclamation enabling COVID-19 mitigation response in March 2020.
“Over time, it included hundreds of provisions assembled in the midst of an emergency to quickly address a pandemic the nation knew little about,” a Reynolds news release said.
The current proclamation contains 16 provisions, mainly focused on workforce issues that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated, the release said. The state is working with stakeholders to address the issues through more permanent solutions such as legislation, rule changes and grand programs, the release said.
“We cannot continue to suspend duly enacted laws and treat COVID-19 as a public health emergency indefinitely,” Reynolds said in the release. “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. State agencies will now manage COVID-19 as part of normal daily business, and reallocate resources that have been solely dedicated to the response effort to serve other important needs for Iowans.”
On Feb. 16, Iowa’s COVID-19 websites, coronavirus.iowa.gov and vaccinateiowa.gov, will be decommissioned. The Iowa Department of Public Health will report COVID-19 data weekly on its idph.iowa.gov website, in a similar manner as flu activity is reported.
The department will display positive test count since March 2020 and in the last seven days, cases by county, an epidemiologic curve, variants by week and deaths since March 2020. The department will report total vaccine series and boosters completed, demographics for fully vaccinated Iowans, and vaccination by county.
The reporting will be more efficient for staff, the release said.
Iowa and health care providers will report COVID-19 data the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires. State-level data for cases, deaths, testing, and vaccinations are available at coronavirus.gov and covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker.
“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,” IDPH Director Kelly Garcia said in the release.
“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. This new phase also assures that our teams, who have been deeply committed to the COVID-19 response, can return to their pre-pandemic responsibilities, and refocus on areas where the pandemic has taken a hard toll.”
Garcia said in a news conference that those areas include mental health, Des Moines Register reported.
Iowa’s Hygienic Lab will still operate the Test Iowa at Home program, at testiowa.com. The state will reassess the need for the program as testing supply and self-testing options increase.
States do not have to have a disaster proclamation to be eligible for federal COVID-19 related funding and resources, and Iowa will still receive vaccine and therapeutic allocations after Feb. 15, the release said. Nearly half of U.S. states have ended their public health proclamations, the release said.
Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne, IA-03, was among those who criticized Reynolds’ decision, saying it was premature.
“Rather than continuing to encourage Iowans to get their vaccines and boosters, which have proven to be the best way to avoid severe illness and death, the Governor is sending a message that Iowans have no more reason to be concerned about this virus, that the deaths of 156 Iowans reported in just this past week are ‘everyday’ occurrences, that the sacrifices of our frontline workers will now be considered ‘normal daily business,’ & that vaccine resources are no longer needed by thousands of Iowans who remain unvaccinated,” Axne tweeted.
This article was originally posted on Iowa governor will let public health emergency proclamation end Feb. 15