Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds speaks to the press during the daily COVID-19 news conference on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, Iowa. Kelsey Kremer/Pool, The Register

DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds announced additional reopenings in the state as Iowa continues to lift some of the restrictions put into place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Iowa’s recovery is underway, and our collective work as Iowans to mitigate, contain and manage virus activity in our communities is generating the type of real results that enable us to ease restrictions, open businesses, and get our state back to work safely and responsibly,” she said. 

“Iowans have risen to the occasion. We knew it would take all of us to limit the spread of COVID-19 to protect the health of our most vulnerable Iowans and our essential workers and manage our healthcare resources. Your actions have made that possible, and by continuing to practice personal responsibility in the same way that you are now, we can work together to keep the virus at a manageable level, while at the same time moving forward with our lives,” Reynolds added.

She announced this Friday, movie theaters, aquariums, zoos, and wedding reception venues may reopen with appropriate health measures. Also, swimming pools may reopen for lap swimming and swimming lessons. She also announced that bars on Thursday, May 28, may reopen at 50 percent capacity. 

Reynolds added that Iowa’s schools could resume school-sponsored activities, including summer sports, on June 1.

She said they are working on plans to bring youth sports back as well. 

“I know that many parents and youth athletes are also eager to resume summer sports, High School athletics was the logical place to start the process of bringing athletics back in season. We’re working closely with the Iowa High School Athletic Association and others to make this possible. And together with the Department of Public Health, we’re also working with youth sports associations to develop a plan to bring other sports opportunities back for this back for the summer, and more will be coming on that next week,” Reynolds said.

“It’s up to Iowans to decide when they’re ready to resume normal activities. But it will continue to take all of us working together and practicing personal responsibility to keep virus activity at a manageable level and balance the health and safety with getting life and business back to normal,” she added.

Heading toward the Memorial Day weekend, there are additional changes in Iowa’s state parks. 

Kayla Lyon, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), announced modern restrooms, shower buildings, and cabins will be open in Iowa’s state parks starting Friday. 

She also announced the following guidelines:

  • In campgrounds, only campers with overnight reservations will be allowed; no visitors.
  • Only six overnight occupants per campsite will be allowed unless immediate family contains more than six.
  • Communal picnic tables and grills are open for use at your own risk.
  • Beaches remain open but will be monitored closely. 
  • For cabin rentals, all kitchenware such as dishes, pots, and pans, has been removed; renters will need to bring their own from home. Additionally, the check-in time has been moved to 5:00 p.m. and check-out time to 9:00 a.m. (from 4:00 p.m. and 11:00 a.m., respectively) to allow for more cleaning time between rentals.

Reynolds defended her decision to reopen Iowa. 

“We are not overwhelming our healthcare systems; we’ve demonstrated that we have the resources to manage any type of an uptick or surge,” she said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported there are 381 Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19. Hospitalizations continue to flatten with a slight decrease. Additionally, 126 patients are in ICU, and that number had dropped since May 7 when there were 164 Iowans in ICU. Also, 84 Iowans with COVID-19 are on a ventilator, that number has flattened after the peak of 109 patients on May 7. There were 35 new admissions on Tuesday.

Currently, there are approximately 3,520 inpatient beds, 458 ICU beds, and 742 ventilators available statewide. 

South-central Iowa, including Des Moines which is the state’s current hotspot, also saw a decline in hospitalizations from Monday. At the end of the day on Tuesday, there were 174 patients hospitalized down from 181. The region only saw six new admissions on Tuesday, and 48 patients are in ICU. There are 938 inpatient beds, 104 ICU beds, and 183 ventilators available. 

Northwest Iowa, including Sioux City that saw a surge in cases due to a meatpacking plant outbreak, sees their hospitalizations continue to flatten. At the end of the day on Tuesday, they had 85 patients hospitalized, 35 in ICU, 28 on ventilators, and 11 new admissions. IDPH reports there are 565 inpatient beds, 99 ICU beds, and 77 ventilators available. 

The number of positive cases continues to flatten as testing ramps up. IDPH reported 212 positive cases on Tuesday and, at the time of publication, 120 positive cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The statewide total, at this time, stands at 15,595 in 98 counties. Thus far, one in 28 Iowans tested totaling, at the time of publication, 111,003 Iowans.

Iowa, however, has still not reached its full daily testing capacity of 5,000 tests. On Tuesday, only 2,863 tests were conducted. The high for tests administered in one day remains at 4,475 on May 12.

IDPH also reports that at the time of publication, 8,320 Iowans recovered, with a recovery rate of 53 percent among those tested positive. Nine additional Iowans died as a result of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and one Iowan has died thus far on Wednesday for a total of 385 deaths at the time of publication. 

(Editor’s note: A reminder, IDPH now updates Iowa’s COVID-19 numbers in real-time.)

Read Reynolds’ full proclamation here.

Watch the full press conference:

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