116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — As the rate of COVID-19 transmission worsened Thursday from “moderate” to “substantial” in Johnson County according to federal data, Iowa City announced that anyone going inside a city-owned facility now must wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.
The directive follows a similar one issued Tuesday by the city of Cedar Rapids, there the virus transmission rate is even worse. Linn County is rated “high” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on the number of new cases per capita.
“The decision to require that masks be worn in City facilities was made for the health and safety of visitors to public facilities and for the staff who serve them,” an Iowa City news release said.
The city said all its buildings will remain open to the public. But people also have the option of conducting business online and by phone if they want to avoid entering city buildings, the city said.
The Iowa City Public Library also will remain open for its usual hours and scheduled events won’t be disrupted. However, patrons going to the library or Bookmobile must wear masks, the library said.
Iowa City lifted its local mask requirement for all indoor buildings — including those not owned by the city — in May, following CDC guidance at the time that vaccinated people did not need to wear masks indoors.
But on July 27, the CDC changed the guidance, advising that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people should wear masks indoors in counties with a substantial or high rates of transmission. As of Thursday afternoon, 90 of Iowa’s 99 counties met that criteria.
According to state data released Wednesday, Johnson County added 109 COVID-19 cases in the last seven days, an average of 16 new cases a day. The CDC said that represents nearly an 85 percent increase in per capita cases since the week before.
Earlier this year, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law that prohibited local governments from enforcing mask mandates indoors. But the law does not prohibit cities from requiring masks in their own facilities.
More details on Iowa City’s coronavirus response can be found on the city website’s coronavirus page at icgov.org.
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