Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds speaks to the press during a news conference on Sunday, March 29, 2020, about the coronavirus COVID-19 and the state’s response from the State Emergency Operation Center in Johnston, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Kelsey Kremer, The Des Moines Register).

DES MOINES, Iowa – Responding to a reporter’s questions, Gov. Kim Reynolds affirmed during a press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, on Sunday, that she does consider surgical abortions to be non-essential. On Thursday, Reynolds ordered the suspension of all non-essential and elective medical and dental procedures until April 16th to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients.

She also denied that she targeted abortion clinics because she is pro-life.

“The decisions that I have made have been made in the vein of really helping us strategically use PPE stockpile that we have that has been an issue from the very beginning of this,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds noted that she had emphasized the need to conserve PPE for healthcare providers and first responders to help keep them healthy so they can take care of Iowans.

She said all of her decisions are based on data to slow the spread of COVID-19, not to target specific groups.

” I didn’t close down bars and restaurants to go after the hospitality sector. I did that because we felt that that was an area where we would have potential spread. Based on data, we made the recommendation to close down bars and restaurants except for delivery, pickup, or carry out. We didn’t make the decision lightly to recommend shutting schools for four weeks. We did that, again, because we wanted to bend the curve, and so we didn’t overwhelm our health care systems and really help spread this out so we could again preserve the personal protective equipment. I didn’t suspend churches and gatherings of more than 10 to go after our faith community. I did that again as part of our metric and our strategy in helping to protect our most vulnerable to make sure that we could allow the spread to make sure that we could protect the PPE and that we could get through this pandemic sooner rather than later,” Reynolds argued.

“Everyone is making sacrifices, everyone, and so this is a decision that we’re making on a daily basis, and that was no different,” she added.

Reynolds also noted that ventilators are an issue. She added that anesthesia machines used during some non-essential and elective medical procedures could be converted for use as a ventilator. She said her proclamation would free up a significant amount of ventilators or anesthesia machines.

She said they kept the language broad, and there were questions about other procedures, like kidney stones. She encouraged questions about specific medical procedures to go through the Iowa Board of Medicine, who will enforce that aspect of the public health emergency declaration.

While Reynolds’ order suspends surgical abortions, medical abortions are still allowed.

Another reporter asked Reynolds about the potential spread of COVID-19 it large chain discount stores that are allowed to remain open because they sell groceries, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and household items.

She encouraged Iowans to be responsible.

Reynolds encouraged Iowans to keep trips to a minimum, only send one person, only buy enough for one week or two, and maintain social distancing while in the store.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 102 new cases of COVID-19, and the fourth reported COVID-19 related death over the weekend.

Sarah Reisetter, Deputy Director with IDPH, said they expect the first peak of cases in the state to come sometime in the next two to three weeks. She also warned that because there is not a reported case in a particular county that Iowans can let their guard down.

“It should be every Iowan’s assumption that the virus is currently circulating in their community,” she said.

Reynolds also noted that the State Hygienic Lab had tested Iowans from every county in the state.

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, participated in the press conference by video chat, and outlined how the first three phases of the coronavirus stimulus package help Iowans. She also noted that Congress might consider a fourth phase if it’s needed.

“I do anticipate that there will be some discussion about a phase four package. We’re not sure yet if that will be needed. If it is, certainly, we will be acting on that. But some of the priorities but I would like to see continued in that phase four, of course, support for small businesses as necessary and those are unemployed workers. But then also the health care system and making sure that we are investing properly in vaccinations and making sure that we are also developing plans for future possibilities of other pandemic,” she said.

Listen to the entire press conference below:

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