DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors, massage therapy establishments, medical spas, and swimming pools closed through March 31, 2020, expanding the types of businesses closed to promote social distancing to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Last week, Reynolds ordered restaurant dining areas, bars, fitness centers, and recreational facilities closed, as well as prohibited events and gathers of more than ten people. She also recommended that schools close for four weeks.
She made her announcement during a press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa.
Reynolds explained why she was not ordering the closure of child care centers.
“Many people felt that when schools closed, childcare should also close, but the two decisions are not the same. Each has consequences that impact families. But in the situation that we face today, the impact of closing childcare is significantly different. The reality is if childcare closes, parents of young children who are employed in essential services such as health care, emergency services, food production, and supply and manufacturing won’t be able to work. And now more than ever, we need these essential services up and running,” she said.
Reynolds announced that 117 school districts and nonpublic schools have said they are willing to help provide space needed for childcare.
“I’m asking schools, churches, and other community facilities to join us and being a part of this solution. If you have the space, we have a plan to quickly put a program in place. We’re ready to do what’s necessary to support Iowa’s essential workers and their families at this critical time,” she said.
Iowa Department of Human Services Director Kelly Garcia explained the guidance that her department provides childcare centers.
“Protocols include parents dropping off children at the door where staff can check each child’s temperature before check-in. Children and staff with a fever of 100.4 or above must go home, no exceptions. Distancing as much as possible within existing centers is highly encouraged. And we’d also ask that all centers remove plush toys, prohibit toys brought from home, and send all blankets that children use during the day through nap time daily, home daily for cleaning,” she said.
“We’ve streamlined our regulatory process and partnered with a number of community organizations, including the YMCA, to locate caregivers who already have background checks. Locations will receive an on-site visit by DHS staff will ensure the location is able to care for children in groups of 10, the space is age-appropriate, and caregivers have met all background checks,” Garcia added.
Reynolds also said she is not considering a shelter-in-place order.
“No, because I think we can manage it if Iowans will do what I’m asking them to do,” she said. Reynolds reiterated every Iowan needs to do their part to practice social distancing and take responsibility to help mitigate and manage the spread, so Iowa’s health care system is not overwhelmed.
The order Reynolds signed on Sunday also suspends foreclosures on residential, commercial, and agricultural real property. It also provides professional licensing relief to remove barriers for those who want to serve in medical professions by granting emergency licenses to those who would qualify and prevents the expiration of professional licenses during the disaster period.
Reynolds’ declaration also declaration suspends in-person requirements for various activities.
Read her entire order here.
Before the press conference, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced 22 additional cases that brings the number of positive cases to 90 in the state.
According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the 22 individuals include:
- Cerro Gordo County, two adults (18-40 years)
- Dallas County, one older adult (61-80 years)
- Dubuque County, two middle-aged adults (41-60 years)
- Harrison County, two older adults (61-80 years)
- Johnson County, two adults (18-40 years), one middle-aged (41-60 years), two older (61-80 years)
- Kossuth County, one adult (18-40 years)
- Linn County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
- Poweshiek County, one elderly adult (81 years or older)
- Scott County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
- Sioux County, one older adult (61-80 years)
- Tama County, two adults (18-40 years), one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
- Washington County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
- Woodbury County, one middle-aged adult (41-60 years)
There have been 1,215 negative tests conducted at the State Hygienic Lab to date.
Listen to the press conference below (Audio credit: O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa):