Governor orders additional business closures, says ‘disaster emergency proclamations will be enforced’

Coronavirus cases in Iowa, April 6, 2020

Acknowledging Iowa’s fight against COVID-19 is entering a critical time, Gov. Kim Reynolds Monday ordered additional businesses and establishments to close through April 30.

The order specifically includes malls, social and fraternal clubs, bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades, amusement parks, libraries, museums, zoos, skating rinks and parks, outdoor and indoor playgrounds or children’s play centers, tobacco and vaping stores, racetracks, toy, gaming, music, instrument and movie stores and campgrounds.

“Every Iowan has a responsibility to keep our families, friends and communities safe, especially our most vulnerable and our health care workers who are serving on the front lines of this crisis,” she said. “They don’t have the luxury of staying home. These heroes among us are putting their fears aside and showing up to take care of us. And we need to do our part by taking care of them. We need to stay home, and we need to be responsible.

“I know that I have asked a lot of Iowans over the course of the last month, and today, I’m asking more,” she added, stressing all of the closures and restrictions outlined in the disaster emergency proclamations will be enforced, in particular the limitation on social gatherings.

Stephan K. Bayens, Commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safetynoted the governor will be issuing guidance to local law enforcement officials and police departments throughout the state on their role in enforcing the orders outlined in the various declarations of disaster emergency.

“As the governor mentioned, violation of these orders could result in the filing of simple misdemeanor charges, but worse, your actions might needlessly place Iowans at risk,” he said, adding law enforcement has no desire to cite or arrest anyone and noting most Iowans are being responsible and doing their part.

“It is only a small segment that is throwing caution to the wind and ignoring the limitations on social gatherings. That small segment, however, can have an enormous impact on public health,” he said. “As a result, law enforcement will take reasoned and measured steps if we are forced to do so. However, first and foremost, law enforcement is asking Iowans to take their individual responsibilities seriously and police themselves so we can conserve our law enforcement resources for those who truly need it.”

The commissioner said should personal responsibility fail, law enforcement will always seek first to educate the public on the law and the need for it, and second, encourage Iowans to comply and disperse on their own if needed. Only should all other reasonable measures fail will law enforcement do what the law requires and enforce the governor’s orders.

“Again, I cannot stress this enough. Every Iowan has the ability and responsibility to do their part in slowing the spread of this virus,” he said. “I would ask Iowans to own their behaviors and be part of the solution rather than the problem. Your willingness to do so is critical in protecting your own health, as well as that of our first responders, our health care workers, and your fellow Iowans.”

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported Monday it had been notified of 78 additional positive cases for a total of 946 positive cases. There have been an additional 680 negative tests for a total of 10,653 negative tests to date, which includes testing reported by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs.

Three additional deaths were reported for a total of 25 deaths in Iowa. Eight deaths were reported to IDPH Sunday. Muscatine County reported eight new cases over the weekend, for a total of 41.

“Unfortunately, we expect this week will be equally, if not more difficult,” the governor warned, noting experience has proven those most at risk from COVID-19 are older over, the age of 60, and those with chronic or underlying health conditions.

Despite significant, proactive mitigation steps her administration has taken since March 10 to restrict visitors and screen staff at long-term care facilities, 10% of the state’s total positive cases are at long-term care facilities, and 48% of the deaths have been residents at these facilities.

Gov. Reynold said in Linn County alone, 71 of their 175 positive cases are directly related to an outbreak at a single long-term care facility, and two additional outbreaks have been identified at such facilities in the state, and state and local health officials continue to work with closely with Iowa’s long-term care associations and facilities to both prevent the spread of COVID-19 in those settings and respond when residents and staff become ill.

“I believe Iowans care about doing the right thing for the greater good, and I believe we all want to protect the most vulnerable among us and safeguard our health care providers and essential workers who are the heroes during this uncertain time,” Gov. Reynolds said. “I believe most Iowans are being responsible, but I need every Iowan to take responsibility for their health and the health of others. This week is critical.

She reiterated staying home is the best way to avoid being exposed to the virus or exposing others. Residents should only leave home for essentials, send only one person from the household and go to as few places as possible. Continue to practice social distancing – whether in public or in the neighborhood.

The governor stressed it’s important for physical and mental well-being to get outside, but to enjoy outdoor activities responsibly and not gather in groups of more than 10 people.

Residents are urged to work from home if possible and only go to work if necessary. If presence at a physical location is required, workers should practice social distancing, careful hygiene and frequently disinfecting work areas. Isolate if your feel ill. If someone in the household shows symptoms of a mild illness, residents should stay home, wait seven days from the onset of symptoms and at least 72 hours from the point all symptoms have resolved before returning to normal activities.

“Let’s all do the right thing right now to protect each other. To all of our health care providers and essential workers – thank you. I know this is especially difficult for all of you, she said. “You are our warriors, and we can’t win this fight without you. Thank you for showing up and for being the best self for the people who are counting on you. Please know that we have your back and will do everything we can to support you through this time. Be safe and stay well, and we will get through this together.”