Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued an expanded proclamation on Tuesday. Reynolds noted that in the last week, Iowa has reported more than 21,000 new cases for a statewide average positivity rate of 19 percent.
Reynolds also noted that 88 of Iowa’s 99 counties have a rolling 14-day average positivity rate above 15 percent, which is the rate that allows schools to move temporarily online with a waiver approved by the Department of Education.
Reynolds said the overall patient volume is putting stress on the health care system and putting capacity at risk. She also expressed concern over staffing for healthcare workers.
“The situation has the potential to impact any Iowan who may need care for any reason – whether for COVID-19 or whether for some other serious medical condition,” she said. “We don’t want anyone to be turned away from our hospitals. These trends cannot continue and it’s critical that all Iowans do everything within their power to stop the spread of the virus now.”
Iowa, Reynolds said, has reached the point of serious community spread that cannot be pinpointed to one age group or one activity. Due to the high level of community spread, Reynolds said Iowans are vulnerable to the virus even in casual gatherings.
While pandemic fatigue is hitting everyone, Reynolds said Iowans cannot let their guard down, noting we are putting ourselves at risk when we get together with people who are “most familiar” to us.
“The things that seem the less threatening are some of the highest-risk activities right now,” she said.
In her new proclamation, which went into effect at midnight on Wednesday, any social, community, recreational, leisure or sporting gatherings with more than 25 people indoors or 100 people outdoors is prohibited unless all people over age two wear a mask.
Groups of individuals who attended an event together are limited to eight people unless they are from the same household. Groups must maintain social distancing from other groups at the event.
Only two spectators are allowed to attend per youth athlete at indoor youth and high school sporting events.
Reynolds is requiring masks for employees and customers of businesses that provide personal services – such as salons, barbershops, massage therapy, tattoo and tanning services.
Bowling alleys, pool and bingo halls, arcades, indoor playgrounds, children’s play centers are also required to limit groups to eight people unless they’re from the same household. Again, all groups must maintain six feet of distance while in the establishment.
“Finally, the proclamation strongly encourages all Iowans to consider how their actions impact the spread of the virus in their community,” Reynolds said.
She noted that Iowa has managed to get things back to normal, even though things feel and look different.
“You can still eat in a restaurant, you can still go to a movie and workout at a gym,” she said. “In many states, you can’t do that. Iowa is open for business and we intend to keep it that way.”
Reynolds said she is asking Iowans to think about how they can make a difference, which may mean making some “really hard” decisions. She said high-risk events include wedding receptions, funerals, bridal showers, baby showers, birthday parties and holiday parties.
“If you attend one of these types of events, consider quarantining,” she said.
In addition, Reynolds asked Iowans to minimize their time away from home as much as they can and to postpone celebrations or vacations until a “safer time.”
“This is the time when personal responsibility also means personal sacrifice,” she said. “And we can do this, it’s worth it.”