Jun 15, 2021 - News

Do Iowa's expiring pandemic orders signal new phase of recovery?

Illustration of a circular bandage with a clock face on it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Gov. Kim Reynolds has indicated she won't renew dozens of provisions in Iowa's coronavirus disaster proclamations set to expire this month.

Why it matters: These orders were put in place to protect public health and help deploy aid. The decision to let them lapse may signal that the state's pandemic recovery is progressing.

  • Yes, but: Some worry it's too early to end the provisions, considering that fewer than half of Iowa's population is fully vaccinated and the highly contagious Delta variant has been identified here.

Catch up quick: There have been 40 versions of COVID emergency proclamations or renewals since Reynolds signed the first one on March 9, 2020.

  • The latest, signed May 27, outlines pandemic assistance that Iowans should not expect to be extended, and lifts safety restrictions for some sectors.

What's ahead:

  • Dental: Requirements for dental staff to take extra precautions like wearing N95 masks will expire June 26.
  • Telemedicine and telehealth: Requirements for face-to-face interactions for some services like addiction treatment will resume July 1.

What to watch: Reynolds hasn't provided sunset dates on some pandemic measures she's extended multiple times, such as regulatory relief and removing transportation restrictions. It's possible they'll be renewed in the coming days.

  • This includes limits on truck weights that were eased for deliveries of essential goods like food, vaccines and cleaning supplies.
  • It also covers dozens of rules linked to state health and safety oversight that give more flexibility for things like restaurant inspection timelines.

The big picture: Several governors across the country have ended or reduced their emergency orders, and Republicans seem to be leading the push.

  • But it's not entirely party-driven. Some Democratic governors, such as California's Gavin Newsom, have also moved to end their orders. Many of the Golden State's restrictions are being lifted today.

What they're saying: Relaxed rules mean that people must be more responsible, Sara Willette, an Ames resident who tracks the virus on her site Iowa COVID-19 Tracker, told Jason.

  • It may come at a high cost to those who haven't gotten vaccinated, Willette warned.

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