Governor Reynolds Imposes New Gathering Restrictions

Soli Augspurger, Writer

On Tuesday, November 9th, Kim Reynolds announced new restrictions on public gatherings for Iowans amid dramatically rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. 


The new restrictions will prohibit any indoor gathering of more than 25 people without masks. Outdoors, no more than 100 people will be allowed to gather in the same space. Bars and restaurants are now also required to follow these rules. Masks are now required at businesses that provide personal services, such as hair salons, tanning salons, and tattoo parlors, although there is not yet a statewide mask mandate. In addition, places like bowling alleys, arcades, and indoor playgrounds are now required to maintain six feet of distance between individuals. Reynolds also asked Iowans to avoid gatherings as much as possible and to continue to practice social distancing. 


Currently, there are 38 individuals in the Davenport Community School District who have tested positive, and 14 individuals quarantining. Because of this, as well as the high number of community cases, the school district has decided to move 100% online from November 16-Dec 1. In all of Scott County, the average daily number of cases is over 200, and the positivity rate is 22.3%.There have been more than 160,000 cases in Iowa since the start of the pandemic in March, with over 4,000 new cases added on today. There has been a 200% increase in cases over the last two weeks. Because only a little over 3 million people live in Iowa, these numbers are especially alarming. 


Iowa has been very slow to place restrictions on gathering and has one of the highest thresholds in the nation for school closures due to COVID-19. If a school’s two-week positivity percentage is below 15%, then the school must stay open, even though experts have said that schools should close if the positivity percentage is above 5%. Parameters like these are not found in any other U.S. state, according to a Watchdog study. Governor Reynolds has also mandated that schools spend at least half of their time with in-person learning, making her only one of four governors out of fifty to order in-person learning. Along with unusual criteria for school closures, Iowa is one of only a few states that does not have a mask mandate in effect. However, as cases continue to rise and hospitals begin to reach capacity, that may change. Some hospitals throughout the state have begun warning that they are increasingly close to capacity. 


“This situation may impact Iowans who need care for any reason,” said Reynolds. As hospital beds fill up and healthcare workers are stretched even thinner, it will be harder for Iowans to get the care they need for any reason.  


Throughout the pandemic, Reynolds has continued to focus on the health of businesses, trying to keep things open and as “normal” as possible. Now, however, as numbers continue to rise, she has decided that these restrictions are essential for the health of the economy. “Iowa is open for business and we continue to keep it that way. That is why it is time for these additional mitigation measures,” Reynolds said at a press conference.