In response to further outbreaks, increased restrictions have been implemented for a region of Iowa, but the new restrictions only apply to the social sphere, not to businesses in the region.
Today, Region Six, which encompasses Northeast Iowa, was rated a 10 on the state government’s metric to judge the severity of outbreaks in Iowa. Reynolds didn’t say she was issuing a shelter-in-place order, which is the term the IDPH uses for guidance on rankings 10 and higher.
“Effective at 11:59 p.m. tonight, in all region six counties, all gatherings for social, community, recreational, leisure or sporting activities will cease through April 30,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said at today’s press conference.
Those counties include: Howard, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Clayton, Fayette, Bremer, Grundy, Black Hawk, Buchannan, Delaware, Dubuque, Jones, Linn and Benton.
Reynolds didn’t say any additional businesses in the region will be required to close because a large percentage of Iowa’s workforce is essential.
Disaster emergency proclamations issued in late March and early April already closed most businesses deemed non-essential like: malls, libraries, museums, entertainment stores, outdoor playgrounds and campgrounds.
Some essential businesses include meatpacking plants, where Iowa is seeing increasing outbreaks.
“Just reiterating to employers to make every opportunity available to telework if you can,” Reynolds said was her advice to business-owners. “If not, take all precautions for in-place operations to help protect the health and safety of your workforce, and again help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the facility.”
Reynolds said if people can’t work from home they should make sure to practice good hygiene and maintain social distancing.
“It’s not just the additional requirements,” she said of the state’s efforts to manage the spread of the virus. “A lot of the other things that we’re doing that I think will also be extremely impactful is the additional testing, the additional surveillance, the additional strike teams that we’re putting in place.”
However, Iowa still doesn’t have the capacity to do that on a big scale and Reynolds said that scale is something the state will “ramp up” to.
The planned “strike teams” are nurses and doctors who can go into affected areas and work with local leaders to provide guidance and advice on how those locations can be safe and protect both businesses and employees.
The governor touted a new initiative to increase testing in the state. It will include testing asymptomatic people and those with minor symptoms in hard-hit areas, called surveillance testing. Additional tests will also include serology testing, meaning testing people for antibodies to the virus.
Region Six now has 48 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, with three new people admitted in the last 24 hours. According to the IDPH, 30 patients are in the ICU and 14 are on ventilators.
Reynolds said the new ranking is because of increasing outbreaks at long-term care facilities, where the majority of cases in Iowa have appeared, the severity of the illnesses and the rate of hospitalization.
Regions One and Five have also been rated higher. Both are at 9.
by Nikoel Hytrek