Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Thursday signed the final extension of the state’s Public Health Disaster Emergency Proclamation, announcing it will expire at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. The signed proclamation can be found here.  

The proclamation was first issued on March 17, 2020, to enable certain public health mitigation measures during the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Thursday release. Over time, it included hundreds of provisions assembled in the midst of an emergency to quickly address a pandemic the nation knew little about. Today, the remaining 16 provisions focus primarily on lingering workforce issues exacerbated by the pandemic that are best addressed outside of emergency executive powers, the state said.

The State of Iowa is working with stakeholders in an effort to address pervasive workforce issues through more permanent solutions like legislation, rule changes, and grant programs. 

“We cannot continue to suspend duly enacted laws and treat COVID-19 as a public health emergency indefinitely,” Gov. 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. 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.” 

The expiration of Iowa’s Public Health Disaster Emergency Proclamation will result in operational changes related to the COVID response. The most noticeable change will be how data is reported publicly. The state’s two COVID websites, coronavirus.iowa.gov and vaccinateiowa.gov, will be decommissioned on Feb. 16, but information will remain accessible online through other state and federal resources. 

“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,” said 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.

“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,” she said.

Public health department to report data

IDPH will report relevant COVID information weekly on its website, similar to how flu activity is reported. Data will include positive tests since March 2020 and in the last seven days, cases by county, an epidemiologic curve, variants by week and deaths since March 2020.

The Iowa Department of Public Health homepage.

Vaccine information, including total series and boosters completed, demographics for fully vaccinated Iowans, and vaccination by county, will also be reported. Aligning the agency’s reporting processes will create greater efficiency for its staff while continuing to provide important information to Iowans. The new report will be available starting Feb. 16 at idph.iowa.gov

The State of Iowa and its health care providers will also continue to report COVID data as required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC’s COVID Data Tracker reports state-level data for cases, deaths, testing, vaccination and more. The site is available at coronavirus.gov or covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker.  

The State Hygienic Lab will continue to operate the Test Iowa at Home program. As testing supply increases and more options for self-testing become available, the state will reassess the need for the program. For more information or to request an at-home test, visit testiowa.com

States are not required to have a disaster proclamation in place to be eligible for federal coronavirus-related funding or resources, according to the state release. Iowa will continue to receive vaccine and therapeutic allocations as normal after the proclamation expires.  

Nearly half of U.S. states have already discontinued their public health proclamations, and several more are set to expire in February if they aren’t renewed, the release said.

Iowa has seen 8,657 total COVID-related deaths, with 65 percent of the population age 5 and up fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. In Illinois, 71% of that population is fully vaccinated, and the state has lost 34,966 people due to COVID.