Masking Up Still Encouraged in Des Moines, Even with New CDC Guidelines

Coronavirus Impacting Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday fully-vaccinated people can safely take off their masks inside or outside, but some in Des Moines are still masking up.

Many businesses in Des Moines still have signs demanding patrons to wear their masks, and Mayor Frank Cownie said he is hesitant to immediately loosen the city’s mask mandate.

In a statement, Cownie said:

Since day one, we have always relied on the science and our medical experts. That’s why I will review the new CDC guidelines and consider amendments to the proclamation consistent with those guidelines. What’s more important right now is that everyone gets vaccinated. While we are seeing a decrease in COVID hospitalizations, 99% of those hospitalized were not vaccinated. Science and medicine are very clear about this – vaccinations work and will lead us to recovery from this pandemic. 

Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines

Drake University student Maggie Golshani said she has constantly worn her mask outside, even though she was vaccinated in February. She said the CDC’s latest recommendations will not change her routine.

“It’s really important to wear the mask because there’s a lot of people that aren’t vaccinated still. It’s just being courteous of others and their safety,” Golshani said. “Herd immunity is at about 70 percent of the population that’s been vaccinated, so I was a little bit surprised that this happened so soon because I don’t think we’re there yet.”

More than 300,000 people in the Des Moines metro have been fully vaccinated, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health, including nearly 185,000 people in Polk County alone.

However, the Polk County Health Department does not believe the vaccination numbers are high enough for everyone to roam around without masks.

“Individuals not being fully vaccinated can put others at risk to go back, so it’s important to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Nola Aigner Davis of the Polk County Health Department. “We hear this time and time again, people saying they’re sick of wearing their masks and not wanting to wear masks. What should you do to stop wearing a mask? Get vaccinated. This is your best form of protection.”

However, Aigner Davis said the CDC’s announcement is another reason for optimism in the fight against COVID-19.

“You see that light at the end of the tunnel, and I think we’re almost there,” Aigner Davis said. “I don’t think we’re all the way there, but this is a really great strike to ending the pandemic.”

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