Gov. Kim Reynolds announces updates on COVID-19 at a press conference on Tuesday, March 31 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Olivia Sun/The Des Moines Register)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Under pressure from some members of press, local officials, and Iowa’s Democratic members of Congress, Gov. Kim Reynolds, during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, rebuffed calls for a stay at home order.

One member of the press asked Reynolds whether her messaging needs to be “more aggressive” in light of the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention during an interview said that up to 25 percent of those with COVID-19 have no symptoms and can still spread the virus.

“I think we’ve been consistent in the messaging that we’ve been delivering to Iowans we all have a role to help keep our most vulnerable, vulnerable Iowans safe and healthy,” Reynolds said.

“And it’s also we’ve tried to put metrics in place that would start to flatten the curve so that we don’t overwhelm our hospital systems that we make sure that we have the beds and the PPE and the equipment that we need to take care of Iowans. We’re also working with the Department of Public Health as they’re putting together metrics that will help us identify potentially what that peak may look like for Iowa and when that may occur so that we can start to monitor that and be prepared,” she stated.

Sarah Riesetter, Deputy Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, emphasized staying home as much as possible and to practice social distancing if someone has to go out.

“We do know the virus is circulating within our state at this particular point in time. So if you do need to leave your home, you should really practice social distancing. Because if somebody is ill, but they’re asymptomatic you, you can protect yourself by making sure that when you do need to leave the home, that you stay at least six feet apart, that you avoid large gatherings. Certainly, gatherings of more than ten people should be avoided. And you should really stay home as much as possible if you don’t have to be out and about,” she said.

Another member of the press inferred Reynolds needed to have stronger messaging since some people with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.

She emphasized what Reisetter said and then encouraged Iowans to limit the amount to times they go out and only go out for essentials. Reynolds said only one person in a household should buy groceries and encouraged Iowans to buy enough to cut down on how many times they go. She urged Iowans to practice good personal hygiene and to check on loved ones to make sure they are doing ok.

“I can’t lock the state down. I can’t lock everybody in their home. We have to make sure that the supply chain is up and going. We have an essential workforce that has to be available. And so people also have to be responsible for themselves,” Reynolds said.

If everyone Iowan limited their trips and minimized the number of people they are around, she said the state would, hopefully, be able to flatten the curve, get through the public health emergency, and “stand the economy back up.”

Reynolds also recommended that adults practice social distancing even when outside and encouraged parents to supervise their children to ensure they are not playing in large groups and practicing social distancing as well.

She also stated that they are avoiding implementing additional statewide orders so they can see where the hot spots in the state are so they can provide additional support for those cities and counties.

Currently, Linn County has the most COVID-19 cases, but 30 of their cases are directly linked to an outbreak in one long-term care facility. She said IDPH is providing support and resources to that facility.

Reynolds included Brent Wallet from the Iowa Healthcare Association and Sharon Strickler from Leading Age Iowa in her press conference to discuss what their organizations are doing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.

Listen to the full press conference.

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