Even with vaccine supply in the state on the increase and the general public becoming eligible for it April 5, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday that patience should still be exercised.

Starting next week, the state is expected to see more than 128,000 additional doses of vaccine enter the state, and Iowa continues to hit its benchmarks for vaccination rate among eligible populations. Johnson & Johnson will be supplying approximately 18,000 doses, which will be used for employer clinics.

Still, it all comes down to numbers, Reynolds said, as some counties will continue to see different allotments.

"As we get more doses, the wait to get the vaccine will decline," she said. "But demand will still be greater than supply, and it'll be that way for a while until things open up more."

The state has administered 1.3 million doses of vaccine, with more than half a million people fully vaccinated. She did cite an error in the number of reported vaccinations for senior citizens last week as an "error in a worksheet," but said that has been corrected even if the numbers don't quite align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's numbers.

"I'm extremely proud of what we've accomplished," she said, rattling off the state's place in the top 10 nationally in percentage of the eligible population over 18 receiving at least one dose, and 86% of total doses administered.

Reynolds acknowledged the need to reach "everyone in the state" with the vaccine. The state continues to develop partnerships, and more pharmacies will be brought on as vaccine supply increases. The state has been slow to reach minority groups as well, with just over 1% of Blacks and Hispanics receiving the vaccine. She said the state has scheduled appointments for almost 4,000 senior citizens who called 211 after struggling to schedule online. Reynolds said plans are in place to extend that service to more Iowans in the next few weeks.

"Call volume is decreasing, but demand remains steady," Reynolds said. "211 is a great source for those who aren't native English speakers, and that will determine how we engage minority populations. Transportation has been an issue to and from vaccination sites, but there are currently 35 public transit systems in Iowa doing this."

While cases continue to decrease, Wednesday saw more cases and more deaths, with 765 individuals positive and 14 deaths. The state regularly reports deaths on a delay, taking days and weeks to add deaths publicly after a verification process. To date, there have been 5,689 deaths reported in Iowa.

None of the new deaths were in the Courier's coverage area.

There were nine new positive cases in Wapello County, one new case in Davis County and one in Jefferson County.

Wapello County has completed vaccination series for 4,862 residents, or 13.9% of its population. Another 3,105 residents have received their first dose.

The number of residents receiving all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in area counties include 1,894 in Jefferson, 1,411 in Appanoose, 1,205 in Monroe, 1,029 in Davis and 588 in Van Buren.

The number of Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19 increased to 190 as of Wednesday morning. There were 40 in an intensive care unit.

Out of Courier area counties, the 14-day test positivity rate was highest in Wapello County at 6.9%. It was lowest in Van Buren County at 0.9%.

— Chad Drury can be reached at cdrury@ottumwacourier.com, and on Twitter @ChadDrury


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