Reynolds delays decision on how and where Iowa reopens

Iowans are still waiting to hear Gov Kim Reynolds’ next steps to reopen the Iowa economy after being slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, despite her saying Monday she’d have an announcement Tuesday.

At her Tuesday press briefing Reynolds said she’s still reviewing information, and that she’ll have an announcement Wednesday. “I know Iowans and businesses are eager to know what’s next, but I’ve said all along that these decisions must be made carefully and be driven by data. I’m looking forward to providing that update tomorrow,” Reynolds said.

She said later in the briefing that because the disaster proclamation doesn’t expire until Friday, she wants to take more time to make the decision.

For those watching the number of new positive cases each day, Reynolds explained a large spike in new cases reported Monday. The Iowa Department of Public Health added 539 positive cases to the tally, for a total of 12,912 cases. According to Reynolds, 319 of the “new” cases are Iowans who work and were tested in Nebraska meatpacking plants and tested positive for COVID-19 April 28-20. IDPH was not informed of those cases until yesterday.

A total of 289 Iowans have died from the illness.

There have been 13 cases of COVID-19 in Greene County; eight of those individuals have recovered, according to IDPH. There have been no deaths among county residents.

Reynolds said testing for COVID-19 has increased 800 percent since March. Test Iowa sites as of this Saturday will be located in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Denison, Des Moines, Ottumwa, Sioux City, Storm Lake and Waterloo. Strike teams have been sent to Pottawattamie, Dallas, Muscatine, Luisa, Tama, Dubuque, Allamakee and Wright counties. As many as 3,800 tests have been performed in one day, according to Reynolds.

Reynolds noted “a very cautious approach” by businesses and churches after she allowed them to begin reopening last Friday. “Lifting restrictions is not a mandate that businesses must reopen. Each business will determine what’s right for them,” she said.

Reynolds also said the Iowa Department of Education is working with school districts on ways to transfer contract days from this fiscal year (ending June 30) to the next year. That would be in consideration of the reduced student contact days due to schools being closed.  She said she waived the early start date rule (schools can start earlier than Aug. 23 this year) to get students back sooner for remediation “to make sure they’re ready to learn and continue to grow.”

She said included in reopening the state will be looking at summer school and summer activities.

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