Governor Orders Mask Mandate, Announces Other COVID-19 Steps
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to spiral upward at an alarming rate in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced new restrictions in the fight to stop the virus from spreading.
Reynolds ordered a state-wide mask mandate during a rare night-time address to Iowans. The mask mandate goes into effect at 12:01 AM Tuesday and continues through 11:59 PM on Dec. 10. Under the mandate, everyone over the age of two must were a mask when they are in an indoor public space and unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer.
The same requirements apply to visitors and employees inside state buildings. The proclamation also requires masks inside casinos.
The Governor took other steps as well. She placed limits on indoor social, community, business and leisure gatherings or events to 15 people and ordered outdoor gatherings to be limited to 30 people. This includes wedding and funeral receptions, family gatherings and conventions. The limitations Reynolds ordered does not restrict gatherings that occur in the workplace as part of normal daily business or government operations.
With the exception of high school, collegiate and professional sports, all organized youth and adult sports activities of any size are suspended. This includes basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, swimming, dance, and group fitness classes at gyms. While high school sports and extracurricular activities are not prohibited, spectators at games or events are limited to two per student and are required to wear a mask.
Reynolds is also requiring all restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls, bingo halls, and indoor playgrounds to close at 10 PM. Under her order, those businesses cannot host private gatherings of more than 15 people. Masks must be worn by staff who have direct contact with customers, and customers must wear masks when they are not seated at their table to eat or drink.
For the foreseeable future, inpatient elective procedures at Iowa hospitals will be reduced to 50 percent.
During her state-wide address, Reynolds said she will re-asses all measures in a week. The night-time address she delivered Monday was very rare, the first for an Iowa Governor in more than 60 years.
Reynolds spoke to Iowans on a day when the state broke several new records. Figures released by the Iowa Department of Public Health Monday morning showed the number of virus-related hospitalizations (1,392), patients who are being treated for COVID-19 in intensive care units (271), the number of patients on ventilators (123), and the number of patients admitted in the last 24 hours (243) reached all-time highs.
State health officials reported 2,335 additional coronavirus cases between 10 AM Sunday and 10 AM Monday, along with six more deaths. According to Iowa's COVID-19 dashboard, the state now has 187,020 total cases and 1,991 deaths.
As of 10 AM Monday, there were 78,846 active positive COVID-19 cases in Iowa. The state positivity rate during the past 24 hours was reported to be at 43 percent.