DES MOINES, Iowa — With Iowa’s statewide 14-day average positivity rate at 21.6% and over 1,900 deaths linked to the coronavirus local doctors say masking up is vital in more ways than one.
“We have to otherwise they are going to be pulling in refrigerated semis to carry off bodies like they did in New York. I’m not trying to be alarmist but I am alarmed,” said UnityPoint Health Internal Medicine Physician Austin Baeth, MD who wonders when enough is enough as Iowa sets another daily record for covid hospitalizations Wednesday. “I wish I could give people a tour of these hospital wards so they could see these patients suffering and fighting for air,” Baeth said.
Iowa’s inability to flatten the curve has left hospitals overwhelmed and understaffed.
“We are having staff members get sick. In central Iowa, UnityPoint has about 190 employees who are off work due to Covid-19 like illness or exposure,” said Baeth.
MercyOne hospitals are in the same boat.
“This current surge, there are many areas in Iowa and in the country that are in need of temporary nurses to help supplement their supply so we are definitely competing for those very valuable resources,” said Chief Nursing Officer at MercyOne Cindy Penney.
UnityPoint posted a Facebook event Monday for qualified nurses and patient care technicians to bring in their resume for open interviews.
“Unfortunately there probably won’t be enough nurses and healthcare providers to go around so we are doing everything we can to recruit talented members,” Baeth said.
On Tuesday Governor Kim Reynolds placed restrictions on gatherings and social events but fell short of issuing a state-wide mask order. “It will take all of us doing everything we can to stop the spread of the virus and keep it at a manageable level,” said Reynolds.
Baeth says trusting Iowans isn’t working. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and especting a different result. Something more needs to be done and it needs to be done decisively,” said Baeth.
Baeth believes Iowa’s cases are painting an ugly picture. “We are failing. We are in the bottom eight percentile in the nation. Our state is not used to failing. We can do much better than this.”
In a state that spent much of the election cycle split, Baeth says it’s time Iowans come together to beat Covid-19. “This virus does not check voter registration before it decides to infect somebody. Doctors never want to say ‘I told you so,’ so we are begging the public to take this seriously now.”
Doctors say it is important that if you are sick to still come into the hospital. Do not delay care because you think a hospital is full. They will find a way to treat you.