White House task force reports COVID-19 spread in Iowa ‘exponential and unyielding’

WATERLOO – White House coronavirus experts warned Iowa this week that the state needs to step up efforts to combat the nation’s third-worst outbreak of COVID-19.

“The spread in Iowa is exponential and unyielding,” the White House coronavirus task force said in its Nov. 15 report to Iowa leaders.

The weekly report from the White House was obtained by ABC News, and posted by Des Moines affiliate WOI-TV. State officials distributed it to reporters later Tuesday.

The White House report says all 99 Iowa counties have “high levels of community transmission.” It praised Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ announcement last week that she would require masks at some types of gatherings, which the federal experts called “a good start for Iowa to slow the spread. However, this recommendation needs to be expanded to all public settings.”

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The new White House coronavirus task force report notes that although Iowa has one of the worst outbreaks, its struggle is shared by others.

“There is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather further deterioration,” the report says. “Current mitigation efforts are inadequate and must be increased to flatten the curve to sustain the health system for both COVID and non-COVID emergencies.”

The White House coronavirus task force has regularly sent dire warnings about the pandemic, often conflicting with President Donald Trump’s claims that the threat was ebbing. The task force, led by Dr. Deborah Birx and other experts, has repeatedly urged Iowa to take stronger measures, such as a mask mandate and closures of bars.

In an Oct. 4 report, the task force warned that Iowa was suffering “many preventable deaths” from COVID-19, including in nursing homes. Reynolds, a Republican and close ally of Trump, later complained about the “terminology” to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who is a member of the task force.

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