Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has yet to implement a face mask mandate as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, but ordered bars to close in six counties as of 5 p.m. Aug. 27, 2020.
The governor’s proclamation, announced at a press conference, “strongly encourages” all Iowans ages 2 and older to wear a face covering in public, but doesn’t require them, even as health experts say they could greatly reduce the number of positive cases and deaths.
“It’s not enforceable,” Reynolds replied, when asked why she still hasn’t mandated face masks in Iowa. “I just don’t think that’s going to get us to where we need to go. Let’s focus on doing the right thing.”
Citing the increasing case numbers among young adults, ages 19 to 24, and its effects on the workforce, Reynolds ordered bars, taverns, wineries, breweries, distilleries and night clubs in the following counties to close until Sept. 20: Black Hawk, Dallas, Johnson, Linn, Polk and Story.
Restaurants in those counties must stop selling alcohol at 10 p.m.
The order comes as college students have returned to campus, with reports of widespread flouting of social distancing guidelines.
At the same time, the state is seeing a higher number of positive COVID-19 test results — 921 new cases on Aug. 27, for a total of 59,523 — and no slowdown in the number of deaths.
Iowa reported 1,080 total deaths on Aug. 27, up 19 from the previous day.
Reynolds noted that although the age group driving Iowa’s increase in positive cases in general does not have serious complications from COVID-19, “it’s spilling over to other segments of the population.”
That includes long-term care facilities, where 36 outbreaks were reported Aug. 27, up from 22 as of the beginning of August, with 582 deaths related to those outbreaks confirmed so far.
Many Iowa schools returned to the classroom this week, with some already switching to online learning after COVID-19 cases are reported, including Clear-Creek Amana High School, where students were potentially exposed to the coronavirus during a large weekend gathering, the district announced.
The state approved a disaster waiver Aug. 26 for the Cedar Rapids School District, related to the hurricane-strength derecho windstorm that damaged all 30 of the district’s school buildings on Aug. 10.
School in the Cedar Rapids district is now planned to begin Sept. 21, 2020, with the originally planned ending date of June 1, 2021.
Elementary students will have in-person and online learning, while middle school and high school students will start with online-only learning.
More: See photos of damage from the derecho windstorm