Governor Kim Reynolds has confirmed there are COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes in Linn, Washington, and Tama Counties.
“Ten percent of the state’s total number of positive cases are among residents and staff of long term care facilities,” Reynolds said this morning during her daily news conference, “and 48% of our deaths have been residents of long term care facilities.”
The outbreak among staff and residents of Heritage Specialty Care in Cedar Rapids accounts for 71 of the positive cases of the virus in Linn County alone. The governor said as of last night, 99 Iowans were hospitalized for treatment of the virus. Twenty-five Iowans have died of COVID-19 since officials began tracking the illness in March.
“Iowa’s fight against COVID-19 is real and I want to acknowledge that the last week has been especially hard,” Reynolds said. “…Unfortunately, we expect this week will be equally if not more difficult.”
Reynolds today expanded the list of businesses that must close, including campgrounds, bowling alleys, and libraries.
“I know that I’ve asked a lot of Iowans over the course of the last month,” Reynolds said, “and today I’m asking more.”
The governor said law enforcement will begin issuing citations to people who violate the governor’s orders, like gathering in groups of 10 or more. Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Stephen Bayens said his agency is sending guidance to local police and county sheriffs.
“Law enforcement has no desire to cite or arrest anyone. Most Iowans are being responsible and doing their part,” Bayens said. “It is only a small segment that is throwing caution to the wind and ignoring the limitations on social gatherings. That small segment, however, can have an enormous impact on public health.”
People caught violating the governor’s order and gathering in a crowd of 10 or more could be charged with a simple misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $625.
“Law enforcement is asking Iowans to take their individual responsibility seriously and police themselves so we can conserve our law enforcement resources for those who truly need it,” Bayens said during the governor’s news conference. “Should personal responsibility fail, law enforcement will always seek to educate the public on the law and the need for it. Second, law enforcement will encourage Iowans to comply and disperse on their own, if needed. Finally, should all other reasonable measures fail, then and only then will we do what the law requires and enforce the governor’s orders.”
The governor’s public health emergency limit on gatherings is currently set to last through the month of April.
Here’s the latest: Public Health Proclamation – 2020.04.06