Exclusive: Iowa's official COVID-19 website undercounts deaths

The state’s official website on the coronavirus pandemic regularly understates the number of Iowans who have died of COVID-19, Bleeding Heartland’s analysis of U.S. Centers for Disease Control data indicates.

The Iowa Department of Public Health submitted information to the CDC indicating that 2,099 Iowans had died from COVID-19 through the week ending November 7. The latest figures published on coronavirus.iowa.gov show 2,206 total deaths, but account for only 1,920 deaths through November 7.

Sara Anne Willette, who maintains the Iowa COVID-19 Tracker website, has noticed the same discrepancy. It may explain why IDPH communications staff never answered Bleeding Heartland’s many inquiries about how the state counts coronavirus fatalities.

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Exclusive: Iowa medical director's 45% raise violated state policy

Iowa Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati received a 45 percent raise this summer despite a state policy limiting within-grade pay increases, records obtained by Bleeding Heartland show.

Department of Administrative Services (DAS) Interim Director Paul Trombino III advocated for Pedati to receive the unusually large raise three weeks after informing state agency directors that they could give employees within-grade salary hikes of up to 3 percent.

State rules also require that “any within grade pay increase must be accompanied by a current performance evaluation,” Trombino reminded directors in the same memo. However, staff with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and DAS did not answer questions about whether anyone has formally reviewed Pedati’s work this year.

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As Iowa's COVID-19 trends worsen, Kim Reynolds is out campaigning

Governor Kim Reynolds isn’t on the ballot this November, but you wouldn’t know it from her schedule lately. She’s been putting in full-time hours at campaign events for other Republican candidates.

Since Reynolds’ last televised news conference on October 7, and even since Bleeding Heartland last reviewed this topic a week ago, key statistics reflecting the novel coronavirus pandemic have worsened. Iowa is reporting more deaths and setting new records for hospitalizations, as new daily cases and the fourteen-day test positivity rate also increase.

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Kim Reynolds' commitment to "normalcy" is getting a lot of Iowans killed

Governor Kim Reynolds found a way to make a bad situation worse.

In the past month, Iowa’s coronavirus deaths have accelerated, while hospitalizations have nearly doubled, far surpassing the previous peak in early May.

Despite numerous warnings from experts that Iowa is on a dangerous path, Reynolds refuses to take any additional steps to slow community transmission of the virus. Instead, she is sticking with the “trust Iowans to do the right thing” playbook, confident that hospitals will be able to handle the influx of COVID-19 patients.

The numbers speak for themselves.

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State seeking federal exemption for Iowa's medical cannabis program

Carl Olsen, the founder of Iowans for Medical Marijuana, brings us up to date on his efforts to reconcile state and federal drug laws. -promoted by Laura Belin

Retail sales of medical cannabis products began in Iowa on December 1, 2018, implementing Iowa House File 524, which lawmakers passed on the final day of the 2017 legislative session.

Iowans for Medical Marijuana submitted an application to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in January 2019, seeking to exempt Iowa’s Medical Cannabis Program from federal drug laws. That application used the process in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 1307, 21 C.F.R. §1307.03. I then began to lobby the state legislature and the Iowa Department of Public Health to support the application.

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