Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds expanded mandatory closures Monday, shuttering malls, playgrounds, bingo halls and social clubs until at least April 30.
The closures are a broadened effort to contain COVID-19.
“Today, I am ordering additional businesses and establishments to close through April 30, including malls, social and fraternal clubs, bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, arcades, amusement parks, libraries, museums, zoos, skating rinks and (skating) parks, outdoor and indoor playgrounds or childrens’ play centers, tobacco and vaping stores, race tracks, toy, gaming, music and instrument and movie stores and campgrounds, Reynolds said at a news conference.
Reynolds earlier had closed bars, dine-in restaurants and other entertainment venues and retail stores, prevented elective surgeries and banned gatherings of more than 10 people for that period.
The governor said federal health officials expect this week to be a particularly dangerous one with continued added cases and deaths. People need to stay home as much as possible, to limit the spread of COVID-19, she added.
Reynolds said a big goal is to protect medical workers, nursing home employees and first responders.
“They don’t have the luxury of staying home,” Reynolds said. “These heroes among us are putting their fears aside and showing up to protect us and we need to do our part by taking care of them. We need to stay home and we need to stay responsible.”
The governor stopped short, again, of calling for an all-out shelter in place order. She said that the metrics she is following still don’t warrant that action when much of the goal is accomplished through the limits already in place. She added that such an order might add to the already significant mental stress with which Iowans are coping.
Reynolds is following a 12-point system of analyzing data, in which each region of the state is given a score. She has said a score of 10 would be cause for review of whether to issue a shelter-in-place order. As of Monday, southeast Iowa had scored a 9.
But Reynolds and Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, both Republicans, each tweeted that Republican President Donald Trump’s lead authority on COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told them Monday on a joint call that they were “on the same page” with federal health authorities. Neither state has a shelter in place order in effect.
Reynolds said Fauci was “100% supportive” of her move to close many facilities, ban gatherings of more than 10 people and to encourage people to stay home. On Thursday, Fauci had said he didn’t understand why all states hadn’t ordered shelter-in-place, after which Reynolds said he didn’t have all the facts.
Twenty-five Iowans have died from the virus linked to a global pandemic. There have been 946 confirmed cases in Iowa (including 78 confirmed Monday), with 99 patients now hospitalized. Iowa Department of Public Health data show Linn County has had the most cases at 176. Iowa has had 10,653 negative tests.
Stephan Bayens, commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety said Iowans will be educated about the rules and asked to leave closed areas. If they persist, they could face misdemeanor charges.
“Worse, your actions could put other people at risk,” Bayens said. “Law enforcement has no desire to cite or arrest anyone. Most Iowans are being responsible and doing their part. It is only a small segment that is throwing caution to the wind and ignoring the limitation on social gatherings.
“That small segment could have an enormous impact on public health,” Bayens added. “For that reason, law enforcement will take reasoned and measured steps if we are forced to do so.”
DPS is sending guidelines out to local police and sheriffs, he added.
Park rangers and other officers may have their work cut out for them. Last weekend, trails around the Des Moines area were busy, and many people were violating both the 6-foot distancing requirement and the no groups of more than 10 rule the governor issued last month. The campground at Walnut Woods State Park in West Des Moines was busy, including one party using a tent when only enclosed campers were allowed.
Now, the state campgrounds are closed through the end of the month but the parks remain open. Playgrounds and restrooms are closed.
Reynolds asked Iowans to stay home at all times except for single-person trips to get groceries or medical care or to exercise away from other people.