DES MOINES, Iowa – Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that she would lift the restriction limiting open businesses to 50 percent of their building capacity due to COVID-19 at 8:00 am on Friday, June 12.
She also announced that swimming pools could also open completely. They initially could open only for swimming lessons and lap swimming.
Businesses are still required to promote social distancing and implement hygiene practices. Reynolds also said senior citizen centers and adult day care programs could also open if they comply with Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) guidance.
“In late April, when the virus activity and surveillance testing was increasing, we hit an all-time daily high of 791 positive cases, and our overall positivity rate reached a high of 30 percent. Since then, positive case numbers have been consistently trending down. Our average positivity rate is currently at 11.1 percent, and yesterday our daily positivity rate was 5.4 percent,” Reynolds said.
She noted that in early May, Iowa saw a high of 417 patients hospitalized with 164 Iowans in the state’s ICUs.
“Since then, these numbers have gradually and consistently decreased and again continue to do so. Currently, across the state, a total of 245 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized. That’s down from 255 yesterday, and it’s down from 394 a month ago. We have 73 patients in the ICU. That’s down from 82 yesterday and 152 a month ago,” Reynolds stated.
She said as hospitalizations rose in some areas, the Regional Medical Coordination Centers were able to coordinate transferring ventilators and other supplies to hospitals in need. She emphasized that throughout the increase, the state’s resources remained stable.
Reynolds noted that the data they received from testing and the RMCCs helped inform decisions to open the state back up.
“Results, such as the consistent downward trends and positive cases and hospitalizations that were experienced for the last month, allow us to confidently to take additional steps forward, further relaxing restrictions and reopening businesses through a measured and responsible approach that’s driven by data,” Reynolds said.
She said that lifting the 50 percent capacity restriction provides flexibility in helping businesses best to meet the needs of their employees and customers.
“These changes are a result of the positive forward momentum that we’re generating in Iowa, and we must keep it going. So we know that COVID-19 will remain in our communities for a while, but we also know what we can do to effectively mitigate, manage, and contain it. While we safely and responsibly move forward with life,” Reynolds stated.
Dr. Caitlin Pedati, IDPH’s state epidemiologist and medical director, reminded Iowans older than 65, and those with underlying conditions, like chronic lung disease or serious heart conditions, should still stay home and avoid group settings.
She also encouraged Iowans to stay home when they are sick or if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19. She said those are important things to do to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“It’s also okay to continue to stay home if you don’t fall into those groups, each Iowan should decide what’s best for them, and what might make sense for their circumstances, to keep themselves and their families healthy,” Pedati noted.
As of 6:50 pm, IDPH reports 22,626 cases of COVID-19 out of 204,007 tested, one in 137 Iowans testing positive and one in 15 Iowans receiving a test.
So far, 13,774 Iowans have recovered from COVID-19 for a recovery rate of 60.8 percent of those testing positive. IDPH reports 631 deaths, with 88 percent of those deaths among adults 61-years-old and older and 49 percent among long-term care facility patients. Currently, there are 38 outbreaks in long-term care facilities throughout the state. IDPH removed 11 facilities from the list after not reporting any new cases after 28 days.
Listen to the press conference below:
Read the proclamation below: