Gov. Kim Reynolds issues proclamation for masks; limits bar, restaurant hours
Gov. Kim Reynolds will announce new measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus Monday evening during a live televised address to Iowans.
Reynolds announced Monday evening that all people ages 2 and older must wear a face covering when in an indoor space that is open to the public and if they will be within six feet of people who are not members of their household for 15 minutes or more.
There are several exceptions, however, including people eating or drinking at bars and restaurants, people with medical disabilities that prevent wearing face coverings and people participating in religious services.
For the full update on the proclamation:Reynolds announces more mask requirements, limits bar, restaurant hours, to combat COVID-19 in Iowa
Reynolds will give the rare evening remarks as the state nears 2,000 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and nearly 1,400 Iowans are hospitalized with it.
Her address is scheduled to begin at 6:05 p.m., according to a news release from her office.
It says she will urge Iowans to practice mitigation efforts, as well as "announce new steps to fight the virus in order to protect lives, livelihoods, hospital resources and health care workers."
The governor's remarks will be livestreamed and posted in full on her Facebook page. People will also be able to watch it on DesMoinesRegister.com.
The remarks are a break from Reynolds' typical, livestreamed 11 a.m. news conferences, where she takes questions from reporters. In her most recent news conference on Thursday, she continued to implore Iowans across the state to take the danger seriously.
"COVID-19 does not discriminate based on geography," Reynolds, a Republican, said. "The virus is present in all of our communities, and all of us can help stop its spread."
She delivered the warning days after the White House coronavirus task force reported that combating the "unyielding COVID spread across Iowa" requires stiffer measures. On Wednesday, Reynolds implemented mask requirements for some indoor gatherings of 25 or more people and some outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people. It was her first new statewide restriction regarding the pandemic in months.
Reynolds had previously rebuffed mask mandates as unenforceable and dismissed those imposed by cities and counties as being beyond their legal authority. However, she encourages mask-use when people are in public and unable to maintain a safe social distance.
On Thursday, the Iowa State Board of Health voted 7-2 to urge Reynolds to institute a statewide mask mandate, regardless of crowd size, Radio Iowa reported. All of the board members were appointed or reappointed by Reynolds.
If the pandemic isn't reined in, Des Moines hospitals could see nearly 400 COVID-19 patients by Thanksgiving, Dr. Megan Schaeffer, an epidemiologist consulting for Polk County, warned local leaders last week.
Area hospitals are strained by just 150 COVID-19 patients, Schaeffer said. When she gave her remarks, there were 195 COVID-19 patients in Des Moines hospitals.
Leaders at two of Iowa's largest health care systems joined Reynolds at her Nov. 5 news conference to plead with Iowans to take the virus seriously and to take personal precautions, such as washing their hands and maintaining social distance in public places. It was Reynolds' first formal news conference in nearly a month.
Last week, student, staff and faculty leaders at the University of Iowa sent a letter to the state's Board of Regents asking the board to put pressure on Reynolds' administration to implement more mitigation efforts. Among the letter's recommendations are a statewide mask mandate, more limits on social gatherings and increased testing requirements for colleges and universities in the state.
As the virus surges across the Midwest, Republican Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota issued a surprise mask mandate via executive order Friday night. Burgum, like Reynolds, had resisted mask mandates prior to his order.
On Monday morning, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa repeated its call for Reynolds to implement a statewide mask mandate.
“The greatest commandment is to love God with our full being and to love one another as ourselves,” said Rev. Brigit Stevens, executive conference minister of the Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota conferences of the United Church of Christ. “And in this particular time the way that we live that out best is by loving all of our neighbors and ourselves by wearing masks, by staying physically apart, by washing our hands.”
Des Moines Register reporter Stephen Gruber-Miller contributed to this report.
Nick Coltrain is a politics and data reporter for the Register. Reach him at email@example.com or at 515-284-8361.