CORONAVIRUS

Hundreds gather for horse auction in Iowa, defying state guidelines

SEYMOUR — Despite a statewide order limiting gatherings to fewer than 10, hundreds of people gathered Thursday in southern Iowa’s Wayne County for a horse auction, health officials there said.

The Midwest Trotting Horse Sale was held Thursday near Seymour on the property of Ura Gingerich, after it was postponed earlier in the month, television station KCCI reported.

The Wayne County Health Department set up checkpoints on the property to screen people before they could enter. Department officials said at least one carload of people was sent away after being questioned as part of the screening. The department also said it counted nearly 500 people attending the auction. Many came from out of state.

Gov. Kim Reynolds took issue with the event, saying livestock auctions are not exempt from the state cap on gatherings. Reynolds has come under increasing pressure to issue a mandatory shelter-in-place order to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

No cases had been reported in Wayne County as of Thursday.

Gingerich defended the auction, saying he was taking extra precautions in light of the pandemic, but didn’t detail those precautions. He told the Wayne County board, which had opposed Thursday’s event, that it will be his final auction because he is moving his family to Ohio.

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