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Governor announces new mask mandate

Limits for gatherings, masks required indoors

By Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer | Nov 18, 2020

Image of Governor Reynolds courtesy of the Governor's office and Iowa Public Television

Gov. Kim Reynolds addressed Iowans via Iowa Public Radio and Facebook Live Monday evening to announce new efforts to mitigate COVID-19 and institute a new public health proclamation. The Governor then appeared on the airwaves Tuesday morning to augment her message that it is time for Iowans to take the coronavirus seriously and do all they can to stop the spread.

Beginning at 12 a.m. Tuesday, and lasting through Dec. 10, there is an indoor mask mandate and a ban on some indoor and outdoor gatherings as well as limitations on patrons in restaurants and bars.

All people age two or older must wear a mask or face covering when inside an indoor space open to the public and within six feet of individuals who are not members of their household for at least 15 minutes.

Exceptions include people with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask, people working alone or where social distancing can be maintained, people consuming food or drink in a restaurant setting or a bar table, people giving a performance or participating in a religious service.

Indoor gatherings of more than 15 people are now prohibited, including wedding and funeral receptions and family gatherings unless all members live within the same household. Outdoor gatherings of more than 30 people are also prohibited, with certain exceptions.

All sporting or recreational gatherings of any size are prohibited, except high school, collegiate or professional sports. Organized youth and adult sports of any size are suspended.

A restriction of two spectators per athlete at high school, college, and professional sports and extracurricular activities remains in place, with those spectators required to wear a mask.

Restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades, bingo halls, and indoor playgrounds are required to close by 10 p.m and cannot host private events of more than 15 people.

Masks must be worn by staff who have direct customer contact and customers must wear masks any time they are not seated at their tables to eat or drink.

In the past week, the number of Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19 more than doubled from 718 to 1510. The governor said numbers charted over the last eight months show about five percent of Iowans who get COVID-19 require a hospital stay. New daily admissions to the hospital had stood at 100 per day, and now the pace is 200 per day.

“This pace is not sustainable. If hospitals exceed their capacity, not only those with COVID but those who need other medical care will be put at risk,” the governor said.

Reynolds gave the examples of an ambulance transporting someone with COVID-19 would not be able to respond to an accident on a county road, and if beds are full in the hospital, someone experiencing a heart attack may need to be transported miles away for treatment. If someone skips a routine procedure, a condition that would have been treatable if caught early would become terminal.

Wednesday, the governor announced the state of Iowa is getting a shipment of a new treatment for COVID-19 designed to stimulate the immune systems in high-risk patients currently experiencing mild to moderate symptoms.

“Iowa will be receiving more than 2,000 dosses of the no monoclonal antibody therapy for the treatment of COVID-19. The therapy is targeted for adults age 65 or with certain medical conditions and for children over the age of 12 who are immune-compromised,” the governor said.

The drug will be administered in outpatient settings and is not authorized for individuals already hospitalized or requiring oxygen therapy.

The governor and public health officials reminded Iowans to wash their hands, try to socially distance six feet or more from others, wear masks in public, and stay home when possible. The governor:s Tuesday address also featured a way Iowans can help save lives: through donating convalescent plasma.