116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — All visitors to buildings owned by the city of Cedar Rapids — including the library and City Hall — now are required to wear face masks inside as COVID-19 transmission rates climb again, fueled by the Delta variant.
The policy was issued Tuesday and became effective immediately “to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others,” according to a city news release. The requirement applies to all visitors, whether vaccinated or not, in line with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Linn County Public Health.
The city of Cedar Rapids announced the requirement as the Linn County area now is coded as “red” in CDC criteria to signify a high level of community transmission of the virus. Such areas are considered to be those with over 100 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.
As the highly contagious variant spreads, the CDC issued new guidance recommending that those in an area of substantial or high transmission wear a mask indoors in public, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated.
Linn County Public Health Director Pramod Dwivedi said in a statement that Linn County Public Health supports the CDC recommendation that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a face covering indoors — including in K-12 schools — in Linn County.
“Unfortunately, we are seeing rapid spread of virus among unvaccinated folks,” Dwivedi said. “We are seeing high transmission in Linn County, overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated. Risk remains greater for everyone if we do not reduce the current spread of virus, and vaccinations and face-coverings are the way to stop the spread of this disease.”
Iowa City government did not issue any mask requirement in its city buildings. Unlike Linn County, Johnson County was listed Tuesday by the CDC as having a lower — “moderate” — transmission rate.
The Delta variant’s spread has prompted a surge of new cases in parts of the United States with low vaccination rates. As cases climb again, public health officials have emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated as the free vaccines remain effective in preventing illness that would cause hospitalization or death among those infected.
The CDC has found that fully vaccinated people can carry and spread the virus to others, even when they are not showing symptoms, which has led to some state and local governments outside of Iowa as well as businesses to reinstate mask requirements.
Local governments in Iowa, including the city, lifted their mask mandates in May after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law a bill barring schools and municipalities from adopting face mask policies that exceeded the state’s.
The bill, House File 847, states that school district officials cannot require “employees, students or members of the public to wear a facial covering for any purpose while on the school district's or accredited non-public school's property” unless the mask is for a specific instructional or extracurricular purpose.
While the law prohibits cities and counties from passing policies requiring property owners to implement a mask policy, it does not state that local governments cannot mandate facial coverings in their own facilities.
City services remain accessible
For those who choose not to conduct city of Cedar Rapids business in person, services to the public remain fully operational and available online, via telephone and by email.
A drop-box is available outside the Cedar Rapids City Services Center front lobby doors and at the front of City Hall for those dropping off permits, payment or other paperwork that normally would be dropped off in-person at the front counter.
A full list of city services and contact information is available on the city’s department directory. The city also encourages use of the Mobile CR application, which includes the reporting tool My CR where residents can submit comments, questions and concerns as well as see reports filed across town.
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