Nov 11, 2020 - Politics & Policy

White House urges Iowa to tighten restrictions as COVID-19 surges

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds meets with Trump in May.

Reynolds meets with Trump in May. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Iowa is experiencing an "unyielding COVID spread," illustrated by swelling hospital admissions and ICU data, according to a Nov. 8 White House Coronavirus Task Force report obtained by the local ABC News affiliate.

Driving the news: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has repeatedly said that strict rules were unnecessary and ineffective, on Tuesday issued limits on large gatherings and implemented a partial mask mandate for social settings and some businesses.

  • “You can still eat in a restaurant, you can still go to a movie and work out at the gym, and in many states you can’t do that," Reynolds told reporters, per the Des Moines Register
  • "Iowa is open for business and we intend to keep it that way.”  

By the numbers: "The most recent trends, showing steep inclines across all indicators, need immediate action including mask requirements to decrease severity in morbidity and mortality among Iowans," the report says.

  • Iowa has the fourth-highest COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., behind North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, per the task force report.
  • More than 95% of the state's hospitals reported either new confirmed or new suspected coronavirus patients daily between Oct. 31 and Nov. 6.
  • Iowa reported 621 new cases per 100,000 people during that time frame — nearly triple the national average.
  • Confirmed cases have also increased in nursing homes across the state, where 41% reported at least one new staff case between Oct. 26 and Nov. 1.

Details: The task force said...

  • Iowa should limit restaurants' indoor capacity to less than 50% and restrict hours until the case count drops.
  • There should be increased testing of teachers, hospital personnel, care workers and students.
  • Iowa should enforce stricter public mask policies, especially in schools.

Of note: The Iowa Department of Education has approved requests from 24 school districts this month to transition to temporary online learning due to rising cases in students and staff.

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