Gov. Kim Reynolds said Iowans must use their best judgement as parts of the state reopen on May 1

Gov. Kim Reynolds said during her Tuesday press conference that Iowans have a personal responsibility to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and must use their best judgment as she allows businesses to reopen in 77 counties on May 1.


Joseph Cress

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during her first Condition of the State address in the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines on Jan. 9, 2018.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

Gov. Kim Reynolds called on Iowans to use their best judgement and remember their personal responsibility in slowing the spread of COVID-19 as she partially reopens businesses across 77 counties on May 1.

Reynolds said on Tuesday during her daily press conference that she is opening up parts of the state because the current level of mitigation efforts are not economically sustainable for a long period of time and will have “unintended consequences for Iowa families.” 

She said through her Test Iowa initiative, a public-private partnership between the state and Utah technology companies, the Iowa Department of Public Health has been able to identify hotspots and use a targeted mitigation strategy, as well as contact tracing, when reopening businesses.

“The reality is that we can’t stop the virus,” Reynolds said on Tuesday. “It will remain in our communities until a vaccine is available. Instead, we must learn to live with COVID virus activity without letting it govern our lives.”

The other 22 counties are instructed to remain closed until May 15.

While Iowa saw a surge in positive cases over the weekend, with more than 600 Iowans testing positive in a single day, Reynolds said those cases were predominately in the 22 counties that will still be under stricter guidelines. Linn and Johnson Counties are among those that will remain closed.

According to guidelines from the Trump administration, regions must see a decrease in cases over a two-week period in order to reopen. Reynolds said the state is following those guidelines, and that Iowa has seen a decrease in cases in some parts of the state.

On May 1, restaurants, fitness centers, and other retail stores in those 77 counties will have a choice to reopen at a 50 percent capacity. People can gather for religious purposes, but places of worship must adhere by social distancing guidelines, Reynolds said.

Reynolds said businesses that decide to open will also have to adhere to social distancing guidelines, and added Iowans must use their best judgement when deciding if it’s safe to travel from a hotspot area to a county that is partially reopened.

“We must gradually shift from an aggressive mitigation strategy to focusing on containing and managing virus activity for the long term in a way that allows us to safely and responsibly balance the health of our people and the health of our economy,” Reynolds said.

Iowa currently has a total of 5,868 positive cases and 127 deaths. Yesterday 2,061 tests were administered, for a total of 38,150 Iowans that have been tested. On a per capita basis, Reynolds said one in every 82 Iowans have received a test so far. The recovery rate is currently 34 percent.