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Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

DES MOINES, Iowa – On Thursday, Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered bars, taverns, breweries, wineries, distilleries, and night clubs in six counties to close due to a high percentage of new COVID-19 cases among young adults.

Reynolds’ new public health emergency proclamation impacts those venues in Black Hawk, Dallas, Johnson, Linn, Polk, and Story counties. The order goes into effect at 5:00 p.m. tonight will stay in place until September 20. The businesses can still sell alcoholic beverages for outside consumption.

Restaurants in these six counties are permitted to remain open but must stop selling and serving alcoholic beverages after 10:00 p.m.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, all of our decisions have been based on Iowa data, the expertise of the Iowa Department of Public Health, our epi team, the CDC, and national experts. And we also know without hesitation that this has been a fluid and changing situation over the course of the summer, and as the school year begins, we have seen and continue to see a notable increase in virus activity. We also know through the case investigation that’s being done that this is mainly being driven by adults aged 18 to 40,” Reynolds said during Thursday’s press conference.

She said that 23 percent of all new positive cases statewide are among adults age 19 to 24. Reynolds noted that the percentage is “dramatically” higher in several counties. In Johnson County, where the University of Iowa is located, 58 percent of new cases in the last 14 days were among 19 to 24-year-olds. In Story County, where Iowa State University is located, 67 percent of new cases were among that age bracket. Over the last seven days, 19 to 24 year-olds represent 69 percent of new cases in Johnson County and 74 percent in Story County.

Reynolds said this trend is not unique to Iowa but is also one seen across the Midwest and the nation.

“The increase in the virus activity among young adults is the result of socializing in large groups, not social distancing, getting the virus and spreading it to classmates, co-workers, or others,” she explained. “And so while we still know that this population is less likely to be severely impacted by COVID-19, it is increasing the virus activity in the community, and it’s spilling over to other segments of the population. So we are at a point where it is starting to become a workforce issue as well.”

Reynolds said that the state is not seeing an impact on the state’s hospitalization numbers. Still, there is concern that the increasing viral activity will impact staffing in health care facilities, long-term care facilities, and schools.

“So in addition to ensuring that our healthcare resources remain stable, we can’t forget the importance of doing everything we can to protect our most vulnerable Iowans an increase in community spread, regardless of how it occurs, puts older adults and people with underlying health conditions at even greater risk. And with the start of the flu season not that far away, it is imperative that we implement some immediate steps to slow the spread among young adults in our state,” she explained.

“I don’t make these decisions lightly, and it’s not lost on me that every business forced to close, alter their hours in sales, even temporarily, plays a role in the lives of Iowa workers and our small businesses. But these actions are absolutely necessary and come from guidance within the Iowa Department of Public Health,” Reynolds stated.

Watch the entire press conference below:

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