Health Officials Concerned About Iowa Governor’s Decision to Lift Spectator Limits


ANKENY, Iowa — The Polk County Health Department is worried a new proclamation issued by Gov. Kim Reynolds could lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases. The proclamation lifts restrictions on how many people can gather for recreational and sporting events. Several metro schools are still sticking with the two spectators per player.

For student athletes and their parents, this year has been challenging.

“It’s been different. We had a son play last year at Ankeny and having gyms full all the time was fun and they just don’t have that home court advantage without the fans and parents in here,” Ankeny parent Chad Davis said.

“It’s been hard, especially having a senior. It’s their senior year and you want to see them play as much as you can,” Ankeny parent Laura Johnson said.

That is why these parents from Ankeny High School are excited Reynolds loosened spectator restrictions at sporting events.

“I was ready for it weeks ago. I’m excited for it. I think there’s been space in all the gyms we’ve been in and I think it’s long overdue,” Chad Davis said.

But as Iowa’s COVID-19 positivity rate continues to rise, the Polk County Health Department is concerned.

“Our numbers are not going to slow down. We’re averaging 200 cases a day in Polk County and averaging 1,300 in the state. Those numbers will only go up if we are easing up on restrictions and what we’re doing,” Polk County Health Department Communications Officer Nola Aigner Davis said.

Ankeny High School Activities Director Andy Umthun understands these concerns and wants to make sure their restrictions are lifted slowly and safely.

“That’s the number one thing. We want to make sure we are safe. We don’t want to just open the flood gates and have something happen after the fact and jeopardize these kids’ seasons because, again, that’s the number one priority,” said Umthun.

Even though there is no longer a restriction on the number of people who can attend, all guests will still have to wear a mask and socially distance.

“We’re going to be six feet apart, every other row. I don’t think it’s going to be much different than what we’re already doing right now,” Chad Davis said.

Ankeny High School will be releasing new fan guidelines on Monday, Jan. 11. For this weekend, their two spectators per player rule still stands.


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