Sarah Reisetter

The state medical director has issued an order that provides new legal immunity for hospitals and other facilities in Iowa’s health care system that make “a good faith effort” to get face masks and other protective equipment.

The order also recommends that hospitals decrease the length of stay for COVID-19 patients once their condition is stable.

Iowa Department of Public Health deputy director Sarah Reisetter said the order includes the new federal guidance that face masks may be used if their “use by” date has expired

“Unfortunately, we’re in a position where — like many states and countries across the globe — we are preparing for a time when we might not have enough of these supplies,” Reisetter said late this morning during the governor’s daily news conference.

The directive from Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the state medical director, notes new recommendations about washing and reusing N-95 face masks used in health care settings.

“The order requires all providers to work with our department to further assess, monitor and extend the use of PPE in our state,” Reisetter said, “and is based on guidance that has been provided by the CDC.”

Reisetter told reporters the order is focused on extending the use of personal protective equipment when demand exceeds supply.

“We understand the issuance of this order may be unsettling,” Reisetter said, “but due to the global shortage of PPE supply, we have determined that now is the time to take this action.”

Governor Reynolds said inmates in Iowa’s prisons are making a thousand protective gowns a day for health care workers. Reynolds told reporters there are no known cases of COVID-19 in Iowa prisons or jails. The latest figures from the state indicate COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in 81 of Iowa’s 99 counties.