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UPDATE: Governor orders more closures as COVID-19 spreads

UPDATE: Governor orders more closures as COVID-19 spreads

From the Coronavirus update Northeast Iowa series
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Kim Reynolds, Governor of Iowa, speaks to the press about the state's COVID-19 coronavirus response during a news conference on Sunday at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston.

DES MOINES — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Sunday ordered the closures of salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, swimming pools and more businesses, and she pleaded with Iowans to remain in their homes as much as possible, especially if they are feeling sick, to help limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But Reynolds fell short of issuing a shelter-in-place order for Iowa, as have at least a half-dozen states, including eastern neighbor Illinois.

“At this point we’re going to continue to re-evaluate every day, we’ll sit down with the (Iowa) Department of Public Health, we’ll look at the (federal) CDC guidelines, we’ll look at what’s happening in other states, and we’ll evaluate what we’re seeing in the state of Iowa, where the hot spots are, and we’ll make that decision going forward,” Reynolds said Sunday during a news conference held in the State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Dodge in Johnston.

“But right now we’re not at the place where we’re ready to implement that (shelter-in-place) order.”

After a slow but steady increase in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Iowa since the first case was confirmed here, the number of cases has doubled over the past two days. From March 9 to March 20, a span of 12 days, there were 45 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Iowa, according to state data.

Over the past two days, an additional 45 cases have been confirmed. Tama County is now reporting three cases. In order to limit the coronavirus’ spread, Reynolds previously ordered the closure of restaurants and bars except for drive-through or carryout service, and per federal guidelines ordered Iowans to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people. Reynolds’ new action taken Sunday ordered the closures of salons, medical spas, barbershops, tattoo establishments, tanning facilities, massage therapy establishments, and swimming pools.

A shelter-in-place order can vary from state to state. But generally it would mean individuals would be required to stay in their homes other than to conduct essential tasks like buying groceries or caring for family members, and only essential businesses — like grocers, gas stations and health care facilities, for example — would be allowed to remain open.

Reynolds said Sunday the state is not yet ready to create such an order; she instead pleaded with Iowans to make the individual choice to practice caution.

“I just want to close out the press conference again (with) a heartfelt plea to Iowans to be responsible and help be a part of the solution. And that is, if you’re not feeling well or you’re sick, please stay home,” Reynolds said. “If we all do that, we will get through this … and we will help (prevent the virus’ impact) from shutting down our health care system.”

Thus far the Iowa public health department has been publishing the number of confirmed cases and the number of negative tests for the coronavirus. Starting next week, the state also will make public the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations and the number of individuals who have recovered from the virus, a spokesman for the governor’s office said.

A state public health department official said Sunday that the state has been tracking that data.

Reynolds during Sunday’s news conference also detailed suggested guidelines for child care facilities in Iowa. The state human services department is recommending, among other preventative steps:

  • Parents who are working remotely should keep their children at home with them.
  • Child care facilities may stay open, but should conduct temperature screenings upon drop-off. Children with a temperature of 100.4 or higher should not be allowed to stay at a child care facility.
  • Child care facilities should take precautionary cleaning measures like disinfecting all surfaces and toys, removing all plush toys and barring families from bringing plush toys from home, and washing blankets daily.

“Our goal today is the same as it always is: providing safe care and meeting the needs of the families that we serve,” said Kelly Garcia, director of the state human services department.Reynolds also asked schools, churches and other community organizations with building space to help address child care needs, especially for the children of workers in essential industries like health care. She said the state hopes to partner with local entities to help provide child care, and that programs are ready or being prepared in Waterloo, Council Bluffs and other communities.

“The biggest need we have now is space,” Reynolds said. “If you have the space, we have a plan to quickly put a program in place.”

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State house reporter for The Courier/Lee Enterprises.

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