Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) on Monday issued a statewide mask mandate, saying that the state’s health care system is at risk of being overwhelmed amid a recent surge in CCP virus cases, with new hospitalizations topping 200 a day.
The governor previously resisted calls for mandating wearing masks in public, saying that they were “feel-good” actions.
But in a reversal this week, Reynolds signed a proclamation requiring that masks must be worn by everyone 2 or older when in indoor public spaces. The mandate applies only when people are within six feet of others who are not members of their households for more than 15 minutes.
“Over the last two weeks, there have been more than 52,000 new cases of the virus in Iowa,” Reynolds said. “To put that into perspective, we had the same number of cases from the beginning of the pandemic in March to mid-August.”
According to the Des Moines Register, the mask mandate does not apply to those who are unable to wear a mask due to medical disabilities.
Under the order, gatherings for social, community, business and leisure purposes have been limited to 15 people indoors and 30 outdoors. Routine office and factory work and spiritual gatherings are exempt from the mandate.
Bars and restaurants can continue operating as usual but must close after 10 p.m., Reynolds ordered. Youth and adult sports and recreational activities are suspended in the state but high school, college, and professional sports are still allowed.
“If Iowans don’t buy into this, we lose,” Reynolds said in a rare televised speech Monday evening. “Businesses will close once again. More schools will be forced to go online. Our health care system will fail and the cost in human life will be high.
“So now is the time to come together for the greater good. To look out for each other not because you’re told to, but because it’s the right thing to do. That’s who we are as Iowans.”
The order will be imposed beginning 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 17 and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 10.
“I’m afraid that these mild cases have created a mindset where Iowans have become complacent, where we’ve lost that sight of … why it was so important to flatten the curve,” Reynolds said.
“These measures are targeted toward activities and environments where they have the potential to make a significant impact in a relatively short amount of time,” she added. “That doesn’t mean these changes will be easy or popular, but they’re necessary if we want to keep our businesses open, our kids in school and our health care system stable.”
“We will get through this–together,” she said. “May God continue to watch over us and bless this state.”
The state of Iowa will join 34 other states in mandating face coverings in public.
As of Nov. 16, Iowa has reported a total of 169,353 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, and 1,991 deaths since the start of the pandemic.