With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in Iowa, state officials are encouraging small Thanksgiving gatherings this year.

According to health experts, get-togethers with family and friends who do not live in the same household can increase the chances of getting or spreading the coronavirus. During a Tuesday news conference, Gov. Kim Reynolds made a direct appeal to Iowans to keep the groups small. Her current public health emergency proclamation limits the size of group gatherings to no more than 15 people.

The latest figures for the Iowa Department of Public health showed 3,365 new positive COVID-19 cases and 47 additional virus-related deaths were recorded across the state between 10 AM Tuesday and 10 AM Wednesday. Iowa's death toll increased to 2,271 and the total case count rose to 218,947.

On Tuesday, Reynolds said the number of people being treated for COVID-19 at Iowa hospitals appears to have stabilized over the past five days. According to the state's online dashboard, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 fell from 1,351 Tuesday to 1,305 Wednesday.

With a press release Wednesday morning, Gov. Reynolds sent a reminder that all five state-operated Test Iowa sites will be closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. The sites are set up at the following locations:

  • Black Hawk County — 4121 Alexandra Drive, Waterloo (near Home Depot)
  • Linn County — Windstar Lines, 5755 Willow Creek Drive SW, Cedar Rapids
  • Polk County — 4475 NE 3rd Street, Des Moines
  • Pottawattamie County — Western Historic Trails Center, 3434 Richard Downing Ave., Council Bluffs
  • Scott County — North Park Mall, 320 W. Kimberly Road, Davenport

The Council Bluffs site will close at 2 PM Wednesday. Reynolds said the two-hour early closure will allow test samples to be transported to the lab for overnight processing overnight so individuals can be notified of results in a timely manner.

All other Test Iowa sites will remain open until 4 PM on Wednesday.

The five locations will all reopen for testing on Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM.

Individuals who wish to be tested at any site must first complete an online assessment at testiowa.com, and schedule an appointment.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app

LOOK: Here Are the 25 Best Thanksgiving movies of all time