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Black Hawk County leaders reject call for stay-at-home order
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Black Hawk County leaders reject call for stay-at-home order

From the Coronavirus update Northeast Iowa series
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WATERLOO — The Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors has rejected calling for a statewide “safe at home” order.

Board members voted 3-2 Tuesday against a resolution that would have asked Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue the order for all residents to stay at home unless they’re getting groceries, medical care or working at an “essential” job.

Supervisors Linda Laylin, Tom Little and Craig White voted against the resolution, while Chris Schwartz and Dan Trelka supported it.

The decision shows local elected officials are divided over whether they want Reynolds to take more restrictive steps to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, which has sickened more than 1,000 Iowans and left 26 dead as of Tuesday.

The supervisors’ vote came the morning after the Waterloo City Council voted 6-1 to support the same resolution while the Cedar Falls City Council voted unanimously against it. La Porte City and Gilbertville were on board with the resolution, Schwartz said, while Hudson and Raymond were not participating.

Reynolds has said a series of orders she has issued since the pandemic hit the state are tantamount to “stay at home” or “shelter in place” orders adopted in 42 other states.

But Schwartz and Black Hawk County Public Health Director Nafissa Cisse Egbuonye both said the piecemeal rollout of those orders, such as the shutdown of certain businesses, have left the public confused about what activities are still allowed.

“We also need the leaders of this state to be clear and concise so that there’s not ambiguity in terms of some of the messaging,” Egbuonye said. “That will help us quite a bit.

“We don’t want to be out there policing people where there’s not clarity from the state,” she added.

Little questioned whether a plea to the governor would do any good if there wasn’t a unified message from the cities and county.

“I could be on board with this today if we had buy-in from all the cities,” Little said. “But we don’t.”

White said he’s been asked by some constituents about the county issuing its own order, something legal counsel has said is not in the county’s power.

“I’ve had several calls about it asking why we haven’t done anything about it,” White said. “It’s the governor’s job not the Board of Supervisors’ job, plain and simple.”

Laylin said she doesn’t believe a statewide stay-at-home order would do any more good than the current guidelines, which many people continue to ignore.

“I think the governor needs to do a better job,” she said. “We need to do a better job. Everybody in the state needs to do a better job. We could ask that of all of us.”

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