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UPDATE: Gov shuts down Northeast Iowa gatherings through April 30

UPDATE: Gov shuts down Northeast Iowa gatherings through April 30

From the Coronavirus update Northeast Iowa series

DES MOINES -- Most of Northeast Iowa gatherings of anyone outside immediate family are, beginning at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, banned through April 30, with a few exceptions for weddings, funerals and some religious gatherings, the governor announced Thursday.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the majority of Northeast Iowa, known as Region 6, has hit a 10 on the state's 12-point coronavirus scale. That ranking is meant to trigger a shelter-in-place order, but Reynolds said she would not trigger such an order at this time.

"Effective at 11:59 p.m. tonight, all gatherings will cease through April 30," the governor said in her daily briefing. "You may gather only with members of your immediate household."

The order affects Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Grundy, Howard, Jones, Linn, and Winneshiek counties, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The governor said in her emergency proclamation that weddings, funerals and "other spiritual or religious gatherings" be limited to 10 people.

"Residents of Region 6 and all other Iowans should take personal responsibility and stay home as much as possible," Reynolds said. "COVID-19 is now part of our life, but it will not always dictate how we live."

The governor also said she would be sending 1500 test kits to Black Hawk County on Thursday, "where another outbreak is suspected." Black Hawk County recorded 24 new cases Thursday alone, for a total of 109 confirmed cases.

Reynolds didn't name where the outbreak was suspected, but in follow up questions about the Tyson plant in Waterloo she noted she was working closely with that plant, saying it was "essential" for it to remain open to keep the food supply chain moving.

"We have to make sure we're protecting the employees first and foremost. But as we start to shut more and more of these processing plants down, then it backs up," Reynolds said.

Reynolds also announced 146 new cases of coronavirus and seven new deaths on Thursday, bringing Iowa's total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 2,141 and total deaths to 60.

She noted nearly half, or 49%, of all COVID-19 deaths were among residents of long-term care facilities, and said the state had identified two new outbreaks in such facilities -- one in Linn County and one in Muscatine County -- for a total of nine long-term care facility outbreaks statewide.

Tama County added one of those deaths Thursday and three more cases -- the county now has 114 confirmed cases and four deaths attributable to COVID-19.

Allamakee County added one death as well, and two new cases Thursday. The county now has 26 cases and three deaths.

Bremer and Howard counties also added one case each.

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