With north Iowa facing the issue of hospitals filling up, schools closing classrooms, manufacturing and business becoming short staffed, and the state in the same situation, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds changed her longtime opposition to a statewide mask mandate and enacted a limited version of one.
A proclamation signed by the governor requires that everyone 2 or older must wear masks when in indoor public spaces. Reynolds also limited indoor gatherings to no more than 15 people, however the change does not reflect the number of students usually found inside a classroom or some work environments. Outdoor gatherings up to 30, including family get-togethers are allowed. Bars and restaurants cannot stay open for in-person service past 10 p.m. She also suspended all youth and adult sports and recreational activities, except for high school, college and professional sports. Most high school and higher level sports are more closely monitored by coaches and trainers.
Reynolds gave her address on Monday night on Iowa PBS.
Reynolds delivered her address as the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in Iowa set another record as the recent surge in cases continued. The state said 1,279 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Iowa on Saturday, up from 1,261 the day before. Iowa also reported 4,432 new cases and 13 additional deaths as of Sunday morning to give the state 184,685 cases and 1,985 deaths. Over the past week in Iowa, one out of every 95 people in the state was diagnosed with COVID-19, and the rate of new cases in the state remained the third-highest in the nation.
Reynolds asked Iowans to mask up and follow the mandates so that hospitals would not be overrun and other emergency patient cases such as early diagnosis of cancer, heart ailments, and the like could be adequately and equally addressed. Area hospitals such as Iowa Specialty, Hancock County Health Systems, and MercyOne Hospital in Mason City have been or are at near capacity in their emergency rooms. MercyOne added space and staffing to accommodate the additional load.