Gov. Kim Reynolds gives an update on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa on Friday, March 27, 2020. (Photo Credit: Zach Boyden-Holmes, The Des Moines Register)

DES MOINES, Iowa – On Friday afternoon, Gov. Kim Reynolds, during her daily press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa, pushed back on calls for her to issue a shelter-in-place order. She also defended her decision to order many businesses in Iowa closed.

Asked about a petition started by Des Moines area doctors calling for a statewide shelter-in-place order because of the lack of testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and critical care facilities, Reynolds said the decisions they have made were to address those things.

“All of the policies that we put in place have been done to do exactly that. And that’s to make sure that we’re taking every possible action to preserve PPE. We’re an all hands on deck to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to meet the resources and the needs of our healthcare providers as well as our first responders. We know that it’s so important as they are standing on the front line to make sure that we’re protecting them as they’re taking care of Iowans,” she answered.

Reynolds said hospitals in Iowa had urged her not to issue a shelter-in-place order.

“I also have hospitals that have sent in letters to me saying, ‘Please, please don’t issue a shelter in place, because it would only exasperate what we’re trying to do.’ It starts to spread fear… It impacts the supply chain when we’re trying to get the critical PPE across the state,” she added.

Reynolds also noted that the effect of the policies she implemented has practically the same effect as some states that issued shelter-in-place orders.

“What else would they have us do that we’re not already doing? Because, again, I’ll go back to the example in some of the other states when they issue a shelter in place. And by the time they account for all of their essential workforce, they’ve excluded almost 80% of the workforce in their state. And that’s the state of Minnesota that doesn’t qualify for the shelter in place. So I believe Iowans don’t need an order to do the right thing. I believe they know what they need to do. And again, if they follow through, stay home when they’re sick, practice proper hygiene, only go out when you need to, check on those loved ones that are vulnerable to make sure that they have the supplies that they need. We will get through this sooner rather than later,” she stated.

Reynolds was pressed further and asked why she doesn’t call it a shelter-in-place order if it has the same effect.

“It’s not consistent across the state. And there’s no reason for me to do that we have taken measures all along that we have based on the data that the Department of Public Health has provided to me, along with in working in coordination with the CDC, as well as with other factors and surrounding states,” she responded.

Reynolds noted that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently questioned his decision to give a shelter-in-place order.

“So here we go, you know, it is bouncing back and forth. And when you react, and you don’t base your decisions on data, then you are bouncing back and forth. And that just that drives fear. You’ve got to also look at the mental health of Iowans when we, you know, when we’re asking them not to go anywhere, so we’re trying to be responsible and practical. I want to be consistent in what I’m telling Iowans, and the way that you do that is you base it on data. And that’s what we’re trying to do,” she said, sounding frustrated.

Dave Price of WHO-TV 13 asked Reynolds about those who question whether her response was necessary and whether the whole reaction to COVID-19 isn’t an overreaction.

“The last thing that I want to do is impact families and individuals in our businesses that are the backbone of our economy. So as the governor of this state, I can assure you that the last thing that I want to issue is an order that shuts down a business and puts families and individuals, and as I said, the backbone of our economy, at risk. And so I don’t take them lightly. It has been some of the hardest decisions that I have had to make as the governor of this great state. But it’s also a necessity. I have to do what I can to protect the well being of Iowans, and especially our most vulnerable Iowans,” she said.

Reminding Iowans how they bounced back from a recession and had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, Reynolds became emotional as she encouraged Iowans to persevere.

“Iowans are scared, and they’re nervous. And I appreciate that, but we’re going to get through it. And if you keep doing what we’ve asked you to do, we will be back to those good days. So hang in there,” she said.

Listen to the full press conference below:

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