CORONAVIRUS

Gov. Kim Reynolds extends and expands business closures

State confirms 34 more COVID-19 cases for total of 179

Line chart showing positive coronavirus cases in Iowa as of March 26, 2020
Line chart showing positive coronavirus cases in Iowa as of March 26, 2020

JOHNSTON — Many non-essential Iowa businesses must stay closed through April 7 — an extension of one week — and be joined by a raft of other businesses that also that must close under directives made Thursday by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The governor initially ordered many non-essential businesses closed through the end of March as a means to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. She announced the extension during her daily briefing on the state’s response to the pandemic at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston.

Reynolds added to her earlier order the closure of additional retail stores, including bookstores; clothing and shoe stores; jewelry, luggage, cosmetics, perfume and beauty supply stores; florists; and furniture and home furnishing stores.

Grocery stores and department stores that also sell needed supplies are allowed to stay open.

“These additional steps, along with those we’ve already taken, are equivalent to the goals of many of the shelter-in-place orders” that have been instituted in several other states, Reynolds said. “I understand that these decisions will continue to impact the lives and livelihoods of Iowans. But the more we do now to mitigate the spread of the virus, the sooner that we will get through this so that life and business can get back to normal.”

Reynolds also ordered the suspension of all non-essential or elective surgeries, any medical procedures that can be delayed without undue risk to the patient, and all elective dental procedures, including routine hygienic, cosmetic or orthodontic procedures, excepting only emergency dental procedures.

She also ordered health care facilities and nursing homes to engage in advanced health screenings for staff.

Separately, Heritage Specialty Care in Cedar Rapids, where two employees had tested positive earlier, announced Thursday that four residents have tested positive and were being isolated after consultations with state health officials.

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In order to encourage the use of telehealth, Reynolds also ordered insurance companies to reimburse health care providers for telehealth services at the same rate as in-person services.

“These actions will help us preserve the personal protective equipment (used by health care workers) as well as our health care workforce,” Reynolds said.

Thirty-four new cases of the novel coronavirus in Iowa were confirmed Thursday by the state.

That brings Iowa’s total to 179 known cases in 37 counties. One coronavirus-related death in Iowa has been reported.

Thirty-one individuals were hospitalized Thursday due to the virus, according to state public health department data. Another 15 individuals hospitalized for the virus were discharged.

Reynolds said she extended the closures in part because not enough time has passed to give state public health officials sufficient data to determine whether current orders are proving effective in slowing the virus’s spread. She said with her original order nearly set to expire next week, she extended the closures to allow businesses to plan.

“As we work through this week and next well start to get some of the information, and then we’ll continue to re-evaluate and see how we can move forward,” Reynolds said. “Every day I need Iowans and businesses to know that we’re re-evaluating those metrics and seeing what they look like and talking about what we need to do next. And that went into the decisions that we made (Thursday).”

The 34 new COVID-19 cases announced Thursday are:

• Appanoose County, one elderly adult (81 years and older);

• Black Hawk County, one middle-age adult (18-40 years);

• Cedar County, one middle-age (18-40 years), one older (61-80 years), one elderly (81 year and older);

• Clayton County, one adult (18-40 years);

• Des Moines County, one adult (18-40 years);

• Jasper County, one elderly (81 years and older);

• Johnson County, one adult (18-40 years), four middle-aged adults (41-60 years), one older (61-80 years;

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• Linn County, one adult (18-40 years), three middle-aged adults (41-60 years), one older adult (61-80 years);

• Mahaska County, one older adult (61-80 years);

• Monona County, one older adult (61-80 years);

• Page County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);

• Polk County, one adult (18-40 years), two middle-aged (41-60 years), one older (61-80 years);

• Pottawattamie County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);

• Scott County, one elderly, three middle-aged (41-60 years);

• Sioux County, one older adult (61-80 years);

• And Washington County, two older adults (61-80 years)

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