Governor says Iowa will not shelter in place at this time, no date set on local business reopenings

Gov. Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Department of Public Health said Tuesday that Iowa will not deliver a shelter-in-place order at this time.


Katina Zentz

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol on Jan. 14.

Rin Swann, News Reporter

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and state public-health officials said Tuesday that the state will not implement shelter in place at this time, as a growing number of states have made the move to limit nonessential trips outside individuals’ homes to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“We do not believe it is a mitigation measure that is necessary in Iowa at this time,” said Sarah Reisetter, the Iowa Department of Public Health deputy director. “It is important to understand that sheltering in place for two or three weeks will not cause the coronavirus to go away.”

The announcement came following reports of 19 additional positive cases of COVID-19 in Iowa, bringing the state total to 124 known cases. Thirty counties in Iowa have at least one COVID-19 case.

Reisetter said that, because the virus is circulating around the world, it can be reintroduced into communities from different places. She highlighted that it is important to use the right mitigation strategies at the right times.

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“The Iowa Department of Public Health will continue to recommend implementation of additional mitigation strategies when we determine those additional strategies to be necessary,” Reisetter said. 

She added that those recommendations may change over time based on the data, either by adding more stringent mitigation strategies or lifting them.

“Think of this as a dial and not a switch,” Reisetter said. “We will recommend turning the dial up and down over time. That’s how we will slow the spread of the virus in our state.

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Regarding the reopening of local businesses, Reynolds said that, while getting the country moving again as quickly as possible has always been the goal, she will not place a date on the reopening of businesses. President Trump has indicated he wants businesses to be up and running again by Easter out of concern for the impact on the economy.

“I am not prepared at this time to say a date because, all along, the decisions are so fluid. What I say sometimes at a press conference after we receive new data, I have to stand in front of Iowans the next day if I’ve made a different decision,” Reynolds said. 

She said she will continue to follow the guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and make decisions based on Iowa Department of Public Health data.

Reynolds also stated that she continues to support her decision for a “layered approach” in addressing the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

She added that passenger traffic patterns are down by 50 percent, which she said shows Iowans are listening to the guidelines.

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 “Iowans are doing what Iowans do and that is to be responsible and to do the right thing. You’ve heard me say that Iowa is one big small community, one big small town, and we take care of one another,” Reynolds said.

She reiterated the Iowans should follow the guidelines set by the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health and asked that Iowans follow credible sources on social media, stating that rumors and speculation are not helpful in a time like this. 

Reynolds said she will continue to use the data she has, and that data is fluid and changes on a daily basis. 

“I don’t want Iowans to think I’m making these decisions lightly, but I have to be consistent in using the data that I’m using to make the decisions that I’m making,” Reynolds said.

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