Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a statewide mask mandate amid soaring numbers of coronavirus cases — ending her months of unwavering opposition to what she dismissed as ineffective “feel-good” measures.
“If Iowans don’t buy into this, we lose,” Reynolds said Monday as she signed a proclamation requiring that everyone 2 or older must wear masks if they cannot keep six-feet apart when in indoor public spaces.
“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,” she conceded in a rare evening televised address.
“So now is the time to come together for the greater good,” she said.
Reynolds had for months been one of the harshest critics of such mandates, vowing to “consistently” resist signing up to one as the Hawkeye State battled the contagion.
Her resistance was so strong she even refused to let city officials enforce local mandates, even as many saw alarming rates of new infections.
But she changed her mind after conceding that it was not sustainable to have a record 1,510 infected people were hospitalized, doubling in two weeks, with 130 people fighting for their lives on ventilators.
Iowa now has the third-worst infection rate in the US, and on Tuesday passed more than 2,000 deaths from the contagion, Johns Hopkins University data shows.
The public health department for Polk County had reported over the weekend that hospitals in the Des Moines metropolitan area were also filling up in an “alarming and urgent” situation.
As well as the mask mandate, Reynolds also limited gatherings for social, community, business and leisure purposes to no more than 15 people indoors and 30 outdoors, saying the restriction applies to family events.
Youth and adult sports and recreational activities were also suspended, except for high school, college and professional sports.
And while Reynolds rejected calls to close bars and restaurants for in-person service, she ordered that they cannot stay open past 10 p.m.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Mark Smith called Reynolds’ guidelines “long overdue” but complained that they “fall far short of what Iowans need to aggressively flatten the curve and relieve the stress on our overwhelmed hospitals and frontline workers.”
With Post wires
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