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The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday issued an order requiring individuals entering any Iowa courthouse must wear a face covering, regardless of vaccination status.
In the order, Chief Judge Susan Larson Christensen said the court is balancing the need to take measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus with “its commitment to conduct the important work of the courts.”
The court, Christensen said, has reviewed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the wearing of masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission.
As of this week, the entire state of Iowa now has high or substantial community transmission of the virus, according to the CDC. More than 7,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Iowa in the past week, state officials said Thursday.
The order states all courthouses must modify signage to reflect the requirement for face coverings and notes the order is not dependent on a particular county’s positivity rate or transmission status.
Pat Garrett, spokesman for Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, said Friday the Supreme Court order “doesn’t change the legislation the governor signed into law, ” referring to a bill passed in May by Iowa lawmakers and signed by Reynolds that bars schools, cities and counties from mandating masks.
Reynolds, he said, “believes wearing a mask should be a choice, not a mandate.”
The Supreme Court order said judges will have the discretion to decide if masks can be removed in their courtrooms or take other measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus during court proceedings.
Some counties, including Linn and Johnson, already had a mask mandate in place for county buildings.
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