CORONAVIRUS

Gov. Kim Reynolds orders more businesses closed as coronavirus spreads

But she demurs on issuing a shelter-in-place directive for Iowa

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters Sunday about the state's COVID-19 response during a news conference at the State E
Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters Sunday about the state’s COVID-19 response during a news conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston. He ordered additional businesses including hair salons to close temporarily. (Kelsey Kremer/Des Moines Register)
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With the number of known novel coronavirus cases in the state doubling over the last two days, Gov. Kim Reynolds on Sunday ordered more businesses closed and again pleaded with Iowans to remain in their homes as much as possible, especially if they are feeling sick.

But she stopped short of issuing a shelter-in-place order for Iowa, as have done the governors of at least a half dozen other states including neighboring Illinois.

“At this point we’re going to continue to re-evaluate every day. We’ll sit down with the (Iowa) Department of Public Health, we’ll look at the (federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, we’ll look at what’s happening in other states, and we’ll evaluate what we’re seeing in the state of Iowa, where the hot spots are, and we’ll make that decision going forward,” Reynolds said during a news conference held in the State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Dodge in Johnston. “But right now we’re not at the place where we’re ready to implement that order.”

After a slow but steady increase in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Iowa, the number of known cases has doubled over about the last 48 hours.

From March 9 to March 20, there were 45 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in Iowa, according to state data. But since Friday, another 45 cases were confirmed.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, the latest 22 cases as of Sunday include five more in Johnson County and one more in Linn County:

• Cerro Gordo County, two adults (18-40 years);

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

• Dubuque County, two middle-aged adults (41-60 years);

• Harrison County, two older adults (61-80 years);

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

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

• Linn County, one middle-age adult (41-60 years);

• Poweshiek County, one elderly adult (81 years or older);

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

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

• Tama County, two adults (18-40 years) and one middle-aged adult (41-60 years);

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

• And Woodbury County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years).

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In order to limit COVID-19’s spread, Reynolds previously ordered the closure of restaurants and bars except for drive-through or carryout service. And per federal guidelines, she ordered Iowans to avoid gatherings of 10 or more.

New action she took Sunday also ordered the closures of salons, medical spas, barbershops, tattoo parlors, tanning facilities, massage therapy establishments and swimming pools.

A shelter-in-place order can vary from state to state. But generally it would mean individuals would be required to stay in their homes other than to conduct essential tasks like buying groceries or caring for family members, and only essential businesses — like grocers, gas stations and health care facilities, for example — would be allowed to remain open.

Reynolds said Sunday the state is not yet ready to create such an order; she instead pleaded with Iowans to be cautious.

“I just want to close out the press conference again (with) a heartfelt plea to Iowans to be responsible and help be a part of the solution. And that is, if you’re not feeling well or you’re sick, please stay home,” Reynolds said. “If we all do that, we will get through this … and we will help (prevent the virus’ impact) from shutting down our health care system.”

So far the state Health Department has been publishing the number of confirmed cases and the number of negative tests. Starting this week, the state also will make public the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and the number of individuals who have recovered, a spokesman for the governor’s office said. A Health Department official said Sunday the state has been tracking that data.

Reynolds also called on schools, churches and other community organizations with space available to help address child care needs, especially for the children of workers in essential industries like health care.

She said the state hopes to partner with local entities to help provide child care, and that programs are ready or being prepared in Waterloo, Council Bluffs and other communities.

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“The biggest need we have now is space,” Reynolds said. “If you have the space, we have a plan to quickly put a program in place.”

She also detailed suggested guidelines for child care facilities in Iowa. The state Department of Human Services recommends, among other preventive steps:

• Parents who are working remotely should keep their children at home with them.

• Child care facilities may stay open, but should conduct temperature screenings upon drop-off. Children with a temperature of 100.4 or higher should not be allowed to stay.

• Child care facilities should take precautionary cleaning measures like disinfecting all surfaces and toys, removing plush toys and barring families from bringing plush toys from home, and washing blankets.

“Our goal today is the same as it always is: providing safe care and meeting the needs of the families that we serve,” said Kelly Garcia, Human Services director.

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