DES MOINES, Iowa — Nearly all of Iowa's 99 counties have moderate or high levels of community transmission of coronavirus, White House experts warn in their new report this week, urging small gatherings and avoiding crowds to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 disease.
The new White House Coronavirus Task Force report dated Sunday says Iowa is still in the red zone for cases, indicating 101 or more new cases per 100,000 population last week, with the eighth highest rate in the country.
90% of Iowa's counties have moderate or high levels of community transmission and half are experiencing high levels.
The state has the ninth highest rate for test positivity. The Iowa Department of Public Health released the report to KGAN/Iowa's News Now on Friday.
The experts urged state officials to bolster mitigation strategies in places with high levels of spread.
"Mitigation efforts must be strengthened in areas with increasing cases and test positivity," the report says. "These should including mask wearing, physical distancing, hand hygiene, avoiding crowds in public and social gatherings in private, and ensuring flu immunizations."
The state reports more than 112,000 positive cases and more than 1,600 deaths as of Friday afternoon. There were 1,581 new positive cases in the 24-hour period ending 10 a.m. Friday, according to our tracking of the data. 536 Iowans are hospitalized, which is a record-high.
"In red and orange counties, both public and private gatherings should be as small as possible and optimally, not extend beyond immediate family," the report reads. 68 counties are flagged as in the red or orange zones.
Amy McCoy, spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Health, said in an email that "Iowa has already taken a number of steps to manage virus activity, many of which align with recommendations in the White House report," including communication with local officials to provide information and reinforce public health measures, and expanding the state lab's capacity to process more than 10,000 tests per day.
READ the full report for this week here: