Reynolds re-opens bars in four counties

By: 
Travis Fischer

After a few weeks of forced closure, Governor Kim Reynolds has allowed bars to be re-opened in four of the six counties that have stood out as COVID-19 hotspots.

As of Wednesday, September 16, bars and taverns in Black Hawk, Dallas, Linn, and Polk counties were allowed to re-open and restaurants in those counties could resume sales of alcohol as normal.

In order to prevent a relapse in those counties, the state has streamlined the social distancing rule enforcement process to make it easier and faster to hold individual bars accountable for not following the rules.

“We want to give them a chance to do it right,” said Reynolds. “If they don’t do what they’re supposed to do, then we’ll take the next steps. Which is to fine and shut them down.”

Restrictions in Johnson and Story counties remain in place until at least September 27.

“Young adults are still the primary driver in new cases, especially in those two counties,” said Reynolds.

On Friday, September 18, Governor Reynolds extended the state’s Public Health Disaster Emergency for another 30 days. As with past extensions, this was a routine declaration that is expected to be repeated monthly at least through the end of the year.

Reynolds also discussed the ongoing conflict between her office and the Des Moines Public School Board regarding the return to in-person learning. On Tuesday, the Des Moines school board made the decision to prepare a hybrid-learning model that would comply with the state’s rules, but did not establish a timeframe for when it would be put in place.

“The board’s action last night was disappointing. While the board voted 4-3 to prepare to implement a hybrid learning model, there’s no clear sense of how or when that might happen,” said Reynolds. “Only the district will determine when conditions are safe to do so using a set of metrics that appear to be designed to ensure that they don’t come back for in person learning.”

Regarding the state’s own metrics, which mandate a 15% positivity rate and 10% absentee rate in schools before they can apply for a permit to switch to online only learning, Reynolds stated that these rules are more like guidelines and are not the “end-all be-all” of considerations.

“We have issued waivers that didn’t meet the 15% or didn’t have the attendance,” said Reynolds.

As of Sunday, September 20, there have been 80,047 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, increasing the 74,500 total from the week prior by 5,547 cases, a moderate increase from the previous week.

In total, approximately 2,401 elderly adults (age 80+); 10,406 older adults (61-80); 21,613 middle aged adults (41-60); 39,223 young adults (18-40); and 6,404 children have tested positive for the disease. These estimates are based on a percentage-based breakdown of the state’s reported positive cases.

With 57,524 cases considered recovered, that leaves roughly 21,258 Iowans currently known to be fighting the disease, an increase of 1,124 from the previous week.

738,488 individuals have been tested since the start of the pandemic, including 719,817 PCR tests and 18,671 antigen tests. An average of 5,300 PCR tests per day were counted over the last week along with a total of 2,352 antigen tests. Current testing shows that roughly 60% of positive cases result in symptoms while 13% have been asymptomatic, with the remaining cases pending or unknown.

In addition, 55,887 Iowans have undergone serology testing for coronavirus antibodies, which would indicate that they have had the virus. Of that number, 3,320, about 6%, have tested positive for antibodies.

The number of hospitalized Iowans decreased again last week to 269, with 73 patients in an ICU.

At the same time, 47 new deaths attributed to COVID-19 bring the total death count of the disease to 1,265.

Of the deaths reported last week, 14 have been attributed to outbreaks in long term care facilities, bringing the total deaths in long term care facilities to 664. The increase in outbreaks continues to go up, with four new facilities reporting outbreaks, increasing the total to 39 outbreaks and 899 testing positive with 469 considered recovered.

In total, approximately 607 elderly (48%), 519 older adults (41%), 114 middle aged adults (9%), 25 young adults (2%), and one child (.1%) have died from the virus since the pandemic began.

 

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