Governor Reynolds and Dr. Pedati.

Governor Kim Reynolds is recommending that Iowa schools close for four weeks. State public health officials were notified on today of four additional positive cases of COVID-19 and public health investigators were unable to determine how two of those Iowans got the virus. It’s more confirmation that what’s called “community spread” is happening here.

“Unfortunately, we know now that we have substantial community spread across our state,” she said tonight, “which takes us to the next level of response.”

Reynolds recorded and released a video message this evening. She’ll hold a news conference Monday. Her decision on school closures is a reversal from Saturday night, when Reynolds told reporters schools should make those decisions on a case-by-case basis. Now, Reynolds is recommending that all Iowa schools close for a month.

“We know that these are unprecedented times and we understand that school closures have an impact on children, families and the workforce, but this next step goes a long way to protect our vulnerable Iowans and mitigate further spread of the virus,” Reynolds said in the video. “It also protects students, teachers and staff with underlying health conditions and it aligns with social distancing recommendations to protect all Iowans.”

During this emergency, Reynolds indicated state officials aim to help Iowa parents with child care, although she has not shared the details of what’s being planned. Arrangements are being made to provide meals to low-income students.

“This is a very fluid situation,” Reynolds said in the video. “As testing ramps up we expect the number of positive COVID-19 cases to increase in the days and weeks to come…My ask of you is that you know the facts, remain calm and to do your part in helping us mitigate the spread of this virus.”

Twenty-two positive cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Iowa. Two of the cases identified today are related to international travel. Both are residents of Allamakee County. One is middle aged and the other is under the age of 18. The third case identified Sunday is a Johnson County resident, but the person was not on the Egyptian cruise that led to other cases in Johnson County and investigators do not know how the person contracted COVID-19. The fourth individual is a middle-aged Polk County resident and, again, public health officials do not know how they got the virus.

In other action today, the governor has extended a disaster proclamation that lets Iowa grocers and other retailers refuse to accept empty bottles and cans from customers seeking their nickle deposit fees. Grocers have long complained many empties are filthy and should not be introduced in an environment where food is sold.