DES MOINES, Iowa (KCAU) – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a new Public Health Disaster proclamation Monday.
The new proclamation is nine pages long and orders more restrictions as the state tries to curb COVID-19.
Monday night, Reynolds said there have been more than 52,000 new cases of COVID-19 in the last two weeks, and that as cases rise, so do hospitalizations.
About 5% of Iowans with COVID-19 require hospitalizations, pushing the healthcare system to the brink, Reynolds said.
As of the morning of Nov. 17, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported a total of more than 2,000 virus-related deaths and 190,581 totals positive cases. They also reported 1,510 hospitalizations with 1,097 from COVID-19 being a primary diagnosis, while 413 are a secondary diagnosis. They also reported 288 of the 1,510 are in the ICU and 215 were admitted in the last 24 hours.
It is due to the healthcare systems that Reynolds signed the new proclamation, with limits on indoor gatherings, a curfew for restaurants, and a mask mandate.
So what are all the restrictions that Reynolds has put in place through the Public Health Disaster Proclamation? Here is a breakdown of the 12 sections in the Proclamation.
The proclamations starts out asking “vulnerable Iowans, including those with preexisting medical conditions and those older than 65,” to limit their activities outside of home including at business and gatherings. It also asks all Iowa to limit in-person interactions with vulnerable Iowans
This section is about avoiding high-risk activities and encouraging residents to follow public health mitigation strategies. Specifically, they ask residents to not go to events where social distancing or masks are not in use.
The third section said that employers should try to take steps to have employees work from home if able. It also said that those with in-person operations should take steps to ensure employees’ health, including social distancing, increased cleaning and screenings.
This section orders that through Dec. 10 or otherwise changed, people older that two years, should wear a mask or face covering when inside a place that is open to the public and within six feet of people for 15 minute or longer.
It then lists people who are not required to wear a mask, which includes those with a medical condition or disability that prevents it, those who are deaf or hard of hearing that make communication difficult, or those who work alone or in a space where social distancing can be maintained.
Others not required include if someone eating or drinking at a restaurant or bar, and person participating a sporting event of engaged in exercise. Someone giving a presentation or performance to an audience or participating at a spiritual or religious gathering are also exempt from the mask mandate.
Finally, any public safety worker where a mask would interfere in their performance, anyone obtaining or providing a service that requires the removal of a mask, and those who need to verify their identity for lawful purposes are not required to wear a mask.
Section Five of the proclamation is similar to Section Four in requiring masks, except that it requires masks in state government buildings, offices, or facilities controlled by the executive branch. It has a similar list of people not required to wear a mask, adding that “any person in space under the control of the Legislative of Judicial Branches” are not required to wear a mask or face-covering.
This section limits gatherings in the state through December 10 or until the proclamations are modified. It states that social, community, business, or leisure gatherings or events of more than 15 people are prohibited at indoor locations and venues. That is, unless, the proclamation explicitly permits it. Such indoor gatherings include wedding and funeral receptions, family gatherings, festivals, conventions, and fundraisers. The proclamation doesn’t restrict gatherings that would normally happen between employees or the public, such as in an office, workplace, or retail operations. There is also a limit to outdoor gatherings, which is the same as the indoor gatherings restrictions, but instead limits to 30 people.
The proclamation also prohibits sporting and recreational gatherings except for high school collegiate or professional events. Such events include swimming lessons, dancing, or organized basketball games. At high school-sponsored sporting and extracurricular events, such as practice, games, or performance, are not prohibited as long as spectators are limited to two per student and at least six feet apart from other groups of spectators.
The section also said that spiritual and religious gatherings are not prohibited, but that reasonable measures should be implemented to ensure the health of those attending.
Section seven of the proclamation orders certain restrictions for businesses and establishments. The first businesses are for restaurants and bars. The first restriction is only being able to allow customers from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. They can continue to serve patrons still through a carry-out or drive-through. Private groups are limited to 15 indoors and 30 outdoors. Groups are also limited to no more than 8 to a table. People must also wear a mask while not seated. Businesses must also ensure six feet between groups and follow other public health measures.
Fitness centers can be open as long as then ensure social distancing and other public health measures. Group fitness activities are prohibited.
At casinos and gaming facilities, masks are required unless seated to eat or drink and seated at a proper distance. The establishments should also encourage social distancing and follow the bars and restaurants’ requirements for food and beverage services.
Senior citizen centers and adult daycare facilities should ensure social distancing, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures.
Salons, barbershops, massage therapy, tanning and tattoo establishments require masks unless the establishments’ services require masks of face coverings. They must also ensure social distancing and other reasonable measures.
Hours are limited at bowling alleys, pool halls, bing halls, arcades, indoor playgrounds and play centers, similarly to restaurants and bars. Also similar are limiting private gatherings, limiting groups, requiring masks, and ensuring social distancing and other public health measures.
Medical spas can operate as long as they comply with requiring outpatient procedures that use PPE.
Theaters and performance venues and race tracks require social distancing and other hygiene and public health measures.
Malls must close any play areas and implement reasonable measures such as social distancing, hygiene, and public health measures.
Other establishments should also ensure social distance, increase hygiene practices, and other public health measures.
Part of the proclamation limits nonessential or elective surgeries and procedures. Hospitals, outpatients surgery providers or outpatient procedure providers can conduct in-patient surgeries that pose a significant risk to others as long as they meet other requirements, such as having an adequate amount of PPE and try to conserve it. They must also conduct COVID-19 tests to mitigate potential clusters of infection. They must reserve at least 10% of ICU bed and 10% of surgical beds for COVID-19 patients. There can be no more than 50% of in-patient nonessential surgeries that there were in September.
Section Nine through Twelve all deal with the implementation and interpretation of the proclamation. Section Nine said that multiple state departments are to monitor and implement the proclamations. Those departments are the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Department of Homeland security and Emergency Management, Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, and Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division.
Section Ten calls upon all peace officers to assist in the enforcement.
Section Eleven said that nothing in the declaration “shall be construed as an exemption from any other portion of the Iowa Code or Iowa Administrative Code not specifically identified” in the proclamation.
The final section lays out that the proclamation is effective from Nov. 17 and go through December 10, unless later terminated or extended. Also, it said that the proclamation should not be construed to modify the November 10 proclamation.
Reynolds added that all the measures will be reassessed in a week with more restrictions are possible depending on hospital capacity.
Below is the full proclamation Reynolds issued Monday, Nov. 16.