COVID-19 mitigation eased prior to holiday

Memorial Day weekend activities can include a movie in a theatre or camping in a state campground, and there will be high school softball and baseball seasons. Gov Kim Reynolds on Wednesday signed a new proclamation continuing the state public health emergency declaration, but lifting some mitigation measures.

Movie theatres, zoos, aquariums and wedding reception venues may open effective Friday at 5 am, with public health measures (limited capacity, social distancing, hand hygiene) in place.

Like restaurants, theatres must limit attendance to 50 percent of normal capacity. The theatre must ensure at least 6 feet of physical distance between each group or individual attending alone.

Performance venues at which live performances are held will remain closed.

State park campgrounds will also be open to all campers, including tent campers. All modern restrooms and shower facilities will be open. However, only campers with overnight reservations will be allowed; there will be no guests. Only six overnight campers will be allowed per campsite except for large immediate families.

Campfire gatherings should not include more than 10 persons, and social distancing is expected. Communal picnic tables and grills will be available at the users’ risk. Beaches will be open but will be monitored closely.

Swimming pools may open but only for swimming lessons or lap swims. “Open swims” will not be allowed.

Bars can open May 28 for indoor or outdoor seating, following the same capacity and distance limits as restaurants.

The school summer sports season will begin June 1. Summer school activities can also start that date.

The current public health emergency disaster proclamation expires May 27.

The governor did not reopen casinos. Reynolds said during the Q & A that the gaming industry is working with the Iowa Department of Public Health to formulate guidelines that would allow them to open.

Reynolds was asked what data prompted the reopenings with a dozen deaths a day and an average of 300 new cases of COVID-19 per day.

Reynolds said the pandemic in Iowa has stabilized, that healthcare systems are not being overwhelmed and that resources are available to manage an “uptick” if one should occur. The data trends she monitors are “great”, with the positivity rate declining and the days-to-double lengthening.

But, the economy is also an important factor. “As you heard from business owner after business owner…. We have to move forward. We have to recognize the fact that the virus is in our communities. We have to learn to navigate that until, or if, a vaccine is discovered… I believe we can protect the health of Iowans as well as their livelihoods and the health of our economy,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds advises vulnerable Iowans to continue mitigation. Section One of her May 20 proclamation reads: “I continue to strongly encourage all vulnerable Iowans, including those with preexisting medical conditions and those older than 65, in all counties of the state to continue to limit their activities outside of their home, including their visits to businesses and other establishments and their participation in gatherings of any size and any purpose. And I encourage all Iowans to limit their in-person interactions with vulnerable Iowans and to exercise particular care and caution when engaging in any necessary interactions.”

The IDPH reports a total of 15,614 cases of COVID-19. More than half of those persons – 8,362 – are considered to be “recovered.” There have been 388 deaths due to the illness.

There have been 13 cases in Greene County; all patients are considered “recovered.”

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