As COVID-19 rates continue to increase across Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds said she is still considering targeted mitigation efforts, but she does not plan to “shut down the entire state.”
During her weekly press conference on Tuesday, Reynolds said the majority of positive COVID-19 cases are coming from 10 counties and they remain among younger adults around the ages of 21-22.
While positive COVID-19 test rates declined in May, infections started to rise again in mid-June. The statewide number of new COVID-19 cases topped 900 last Friday, according to New York Times data, setting a new Iowa record for the highest daily total recorded so far during the 2020 pandemic.
Among the possible mitigation strategies, Reynolds suggested imposing a 50% occupancy restriction at bars again, though she said she does not have any specific plans yet.
“We can be very targeted in those responses,” Reynolds said. “We know where the increases are happening in the state.”
Reynolds also said at her news conference a week ago that she might consider additional mitigation efforts, including restrictions on bars, but she has taken no action. More than 3,000 people have tested positive in the past week.
Out of the nearly 36,000 Iowans who have tested positive, 48% of those are adults between 18 to 40 years old, according to the state’s COVID-19 data.
Counties with the highest number of positive cases include Polk, Woodbury, Black Hawk, Buena Vista, Johnson, Dallas, Linn, Scott, Marshall and Dubuque. Though some of those counties have a higher population of young adults, some are also home to meatpacking plants, which have been the source of outbreaks in Iowa.
Reynolds continued to reinforce personal responsibility and encouraged Iowans to stay home if they’re sick.
She acknowledged that lifting restrictions and reopening businesses has prompted younger Iowans to go out and potentially spread the virus.
“There is some correlation. They’re out. They’ve been pent up for several months,” Reynolds said. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think we’re going to see a little bit of an uptick in positive cases.”
As COVID-19 cases rise, school boards across the state are voting on their plans for how they’ll operate come August.
Reynolds said she believes the goal “should be to get everybody back to school,” though she said online learning should be an option for immunocompromised families.
“I know school districts and teachers know without hesitation that our kids need to be in the classroom,” Reynolds said.
She also acknowledged the COVID-19 outbreak at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility, where she said 187 inmates have tested positive for the virus, along with 16 staff members. Reynolds praised the work by the Iowa Department of Corrections to mitigate the virus and said there’s a transient nature to the prison because of workers coming in and out, which could expose inmates.
“It was not a matter of if, but when, when you have a congregate setting like that,” Reynolds said.