Grassley says closing bars, mandating masks unnecessary in Iowa

In a call with reporters Monday, Sen. Chuck Grassley praised governors of other states taking measures to curb the coronavirus, but said he trusts Reynolds on Iowa’s policy.


Katie Goodale

U.S Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks with the Daily Iowan staff after a visit to Mercy Hospital on July 2, 2019.

Caleb McCullough, Summer Editor

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he doesn’t think Gov. Kim Reynolds needs to close bars or mandate masks to limit coronavirus spread, though he praised the governors of other states taking similar measures.

Grassley said that from what he’s seen, the coronavirus situation isn’t as bad in Iowa as it is in states such as Texas, Florida, and California, which have seen record single-day case increases in the past few weeks.

Cases are reaching record highs in some counties in Iowa, and the seven-day rolling average for new cases is on the rise statewide.

“I don’t know what the situation is in Iowa; she’s probably got her public health people telling her every two or three hours what the situation is,” Grassley said in a press call on Monday. “I’ll leave it up to her to make that decision.”

Reynolds has been reluctant to impose any new restrictions on businesses in Iowa since removing virtually all restrictions in June. In several states, governors are halting or reversing reopening practices, but Reynolds has elevated a message of personal responsibility over state mandates.

“What I love about the system that we’ve put in place, that Test Iowa has allowed us to do, is we are able to provide a lot of information for businesses and for Iowans, and then they can take that information and be responsible and make decisions about how they move forward,” Reynolds said in a press conference on June 30.

In the same call, Grassley applauded governors of states that are experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 infections for closing down bars and requiring masks.

“I’m kind of glad that governors have taken the lead that they are on closing down bars and limiting the size of gatherings…and then wearing masks and distancing,” he said.

Grassley said the federal government should emphasize the public-health recommendations already in place and urge governors to use their power to increase mask usage, but he did not say Reynolds should mandate masks specifically.

“People at the federal level, keep emphasizing to the governors the responsibility they have and to make it very clear that even though there is some debate about wearing masks, how valuable it is, we shouldn’t be taking any chances,” he said.

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