CORONAVIRUS

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds extends COVID-19 restrictions a week

Citing progress, she says it's 'critical that these trends continue'

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a Nov. 19 news conference in John
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak during a Nov. 19 news conference in Johnston. Reynolds on Wednesday extended her latest emergency order — with mask requirements and limitations on the size of gatherings — through Dec. 16. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

JOHNSTON — Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Wednesday she is extending through Dec. 16 a COVID-19 emergency proclamation that imposed some mask requirements and put limitations on the size of gatherings.

Under an order the governor issued last month, all Iowans must wear a face mask or other face covering while indoors in public and within 6 feet to others for 15 minutes as part of an ongoing effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and increases in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Iowa.

At a news conference Wednesday, Reynolds said she is extending those restrictions for one week, as well as the provision that requires bars, restaurants and other venues serving alcohol to close at 10 p.m.

“We continue to see the same slow, steady downward trend in new cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations that we have since mid-November,” the governor said. “However, it is critical that these trends continue throughout this month and that we continue to reduce the number even further.

“We’ve made good progress over the last few weeks, but our ultimate goal is to get virus activity to a level that we can manage over the next few months,” she said.

“I want to take this time to thank Iowans for stepping up and doing your part, and I hope you’ve seen how that effort has paid off. We really can stop the spread of the virus if we continue to work together.”

Reynolds’ comments to Iowans came on a day when Iowa posted 2,545 new positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 248,782 since the virus was first detected in Iowa in March.

The 102 newly confirmed deaths pushed Iowa’s COVID-19 death toll to 3,017.

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During her news conference, Reynolds said organized sports and recreational events, including bowling leagues, may resume for youth and adults, but spectators are still limited to two per participant.

“The same two-spectator rule that also extends to high school athletes will be extended to spectators for cheerleaders, band members and others performing at high-school sporting events,” she said. “To ensure better consistency among restaurants, bars and other venues that serve alcohol, including casinos, last-call for in-person service will be at 10 p.m.”

Also, Reynolds said, with hospitalization rates decreasing, she is easing restrictions on elective procedures at Iowa hospitals from a 50 percent reduction to a 25 percent reduction.

“We will continue to monitor virus activity over the next several days, and we’ll assess whether additional changes may be possible a week from now,” she said.

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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