Governor announces new series of mitigation measures
Monday, November 16, 2020
Safety protocols impact gatherings, bars, organized sports, elective medical procedures
DES MOINES — In a 7 1/2-minute address Monday evening, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a new series of mitigation practices to help slow the increasing number of positive cases which are overloading hospital’s statewide and creating a chain reaction of difficulties for the medical community and Iowans alike.
Effective at midnight Tuesday, when at indoor public spaces, and unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer, masks are required to be worn. That includes visitors and employees in state buildings.
“I strongly encourage other businesses to follow this lead,” she said.
Additionally, indoor social, community, business, leisure gatherings or events are limited to 15 people; and outdoor gatherings are limited to 30. This includes weddings, funerals and conventions, but does not include normal work environment scenarios.
All organized youth and adult sporting activities are discontinued until further notice with the exception of high school, collegiate and professional sports. High school sports attendance will be limited to two spectators per athlete and masks must be worn.
Restaurants and bars will be required to close at 10 p.m. and can’t host gatherings of more than 15 people. Masks must be worn by staff with direct contact with customers, and customers must wear masks when they are not seated at the table.
The governor also indicated in-patient, elective procedures would be reduced to 50%.
“That doesn’t mean these changes will be easy or popular, but they are necessary if we want to keep our businesses open, our kids in school and our health care system stable,” Reynolds said.
She indicated she is hopeful these mitigation measures will have a significant impact in a relatively short period of time, but didn’t attach a time frame. Reynolds said they would be evaluated in a week, and depending on what the state is experiencing with regards to hospital capacity, additional measures could be added.
“Our state, like so many across the nation, is seeing an a significant increase in the spread of COVID-19,” Reynolds said. “Right now the pandemic in Iowa is worse than it has ever been.”
In the last two weeks, the governor cited 52,000 new cases Iowa, a number equal to the number of cases from the beginning of the pandemic in March until mid-August. Approximately 5% of the COVID cases require hospitalization. Currently, 1-in-4 hospital patients are infected with the virus. In late October, hospitalizations across the state were approaching 100 a day, now the number is up to 200 daily according to Reynolds’ numbers.
“Our health care system is being pushed to the brink,” she said. “… As cases continue to climb, hospitalizations will grow at a similar pace. That is not sustainable.”
The governor indicated ambulance services, emergency care and routine procedures could be adversely impacted.
“No one wants to do this,” Reynolds said. “I don’t want to do this, especially as we’re coming into a holiday season that is normally filled with joy. I cherish Thanksgiving.”
She noted she will not be hosting her traditional family gathering with her own children and grandchildren this year.
“It’s to keep them safe and to keep you safe,” she explained, approaching everyone as not just the governor, but as a daughter, mother and grandmother herself. “I’m asking you tonight to work with me. Think of your family, your friends, and all of your fellow Iowans. Think of all the health care heroes who have been taking care of us since the beginning of this pandemic.”
Reynolds acknowledged for many who have experienced COVID-19, the symptoms have been mild, something is she is grateful for, but something which has also resulted in a sense of complacency among some Iowans.
This isn’t about mandates,” she said. “This isn’t about government. There isn’t enough law enforcement in the country to make sure every Iowan is wearing a mask when they should. There aren’t enough sheriffs in Iowa’s 99 counties to shut down every non-compliant bar. If Iowans don’t buy into this, we lose. Businesses will close once again, more schools will be forced to go online and our health care system will fail and the cost in human life will be high.”
The governor asked the residence of Iowa to come together for the greater good, “not because your told to, but because it’s the right thing to do.
She added, “I know its been as long eight months, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m hopeful, as we all are, a vaccine will be here soon.