116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — As the state closes in on 6,000 COVID-19-related deaths — but with nearly 1.17 million Iowans fully vaccinated — Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday that it’s time to “live our lives more fully again.”
“There's no reason for us to continue to fear COVID-19 any longer,” the governor declared in a news conference. “We know how to manage it.”
Learning to manage life with COVID-19, which, as of Wednesday morning had claimed the lives of 5,994 Iowans and infected 368,468, has been a central theme of Reynolds’ message over the past 14 months.
She made her comments Wednesday while defending her decision announced a day earlier to end Iowa’s participation in federal unemployment programs on June 12, although Congress authorized the additional aid to run through early September. Programs said she will end next month include adding $300 a week in jobless benefits, extending the time period for collecting aid and making some out-of-work people who didn’t previously qualify — like freelancers and gig employees — eligible for unemployment checks. The state’s usual unemployment program will continue.
“Iowa is open for business,” Reynolds said. “Jobs are readily available and employers are able to hire and it's time to get back to work.”
State agencies will begin calling employees back to their offices in the coming weeks, “and I'm encouraging businesses across the state to do the same,” she said.
The state is making progress on vaccinations, she added. The percentage of Iowans with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or fully vaccinated continues to match or exceed the national average, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Three-fifths of Iowans 18 and older have had a least one dose, Reynolds said, and 50 percent are fully vaccinated. Among Iowans 65 and older or with underlying health conditions, 92 percent have had at least one dose. More than three times as many Iowans are fully vaccinated than have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health data.
“So our numbers are good,” Reynolds said, However, the state is continuing to promote vaccinations and advocate other health practices.
“If you feel more comfortable wearing a mask, by all means go ahead and continue wearing a mask,” Reynolds said. “Everybody needs to be making those personal decisions based on what they're feeling.”
While she noted that Iowa has no mask mandate or capacity limits, some local officials have issued their own mask rules and many businesses continue to require them.
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