Reynolds issues new restrictions as COVID-19 surges across the state

By: 
Travis Fischer

     Governor Kim Reynolds issued a new proclamation on Monday, November 16, imposing additional restrictions to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

     "Right now, the pandemic in Iowa is worse than it's ever been," said Reynolds on Monday. "Over the last two weeks there have been more than 52,000 new cases of the virus in Iowa."

     The unprecedented spike in COVID-19 over the last several weeks has resulted in a corresponding rise in hospitalizations across the state. Several Iowa hospitals last week urged people to take preventive measures seriously as their impatient beds approach capacity.

     Iowa reached a new high of 1,392 hospitalized patients on Sunday, including 196 in an ICU. Iowa has approximately 2,800 inpatient beds available across the state. Of those beds, 66% are currently in use.

     Reynolds said Monday that COVID-19 patients make up one-in-four hospitalizations right now.

     "If our healthcare system exceeds capacity, it's not just COVID-19 we will be fighting," said Reynolds. "Every Iowan that needs medical care will be at risk."

     In response to this emergency, Reynolds imposed new restrictions on Tuesday, November 10 as she extended the emergency proclamation for another 30 days. By the next Monday, Reynolds returned with an additional proclamation setting even stricter rules.

     The new proclamation, effective as of Tuesday, November 17 until December 10, mandates the use of a mask in indoor public spaces when people are unable to social distance for more than 15 minutes.

     Exceptions to this mandate include people with medical conditions that prevent wearing a mask; people consuming food or drink; people participating in athletic activities or exercise; any person giving a performance for an audience; people participating in a spiritual or religious gathering; deaf people and people who are communicating with them; people obtaining or providing a service that requires the temporary removal of the mask, people asked to remove their mask for identification purposes, and public safety workers when the mask would interfere with their responsibilities.

     In addition, the proclamation also limits the number of people allowed for social, community, business, or leisure gatherings to 15 people indoors or 30 people outdoors. This is a reduction from Reynold's declaration last Tuesday, which set those numbers at 25 and 100, respectively.

     These gatherings include wedding and funeral receptions, family gatherings, festivals, conventions, fundraisers, and other nonessential gatherings where people who do not live in the same household may come together.

     Religious gatherings are exempt from this rule, however must still implement reasonable social distancing and sanitization measures.

     New limitations have also been placed on restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls, bingo halls, and indoor playgrounds, which are now required to close from at least 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. and cannot host private gatherings of more than 15 people.

     Previous social distancing measures such as ensuring six feet of space between each group or individual must still be abided by. Staff who have direct contact with customers must wear a mask and customers themselves must wear a mask when not seated at their table.

     Mask use is also required in casinos.

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