Dr. Pedati. (file photo)

The White House Coronavirus Task Force is recommending that Iowa officials curb the spread of the virus by ordering bars to close in certain areas of the state and establishing face mask mandates in more than a dozen of the state’s cities.

State medical director Dr. Caitlin Pedati met privately last week with Dr. Deborah Birx, a key advisor on the White House Task Force. “We shared with her, you know, our testing and some of the information and trends that we’re seeing,” Pedati said, “some of the ways that Iowa functions, right? Because each state might have a slightly different public health system, either local or centralized.”

This spring, Governor Reynolds issued tougher restrictions in counties where Covid case counts were higher, but her existing orders are statewide in scope and she has resisted calls to let local governments enact face mask mandates. Reynolds will issue an updated public health emergency proclamation today. A spokesman for the governor indicated it will mainly extend current regulatory relief and maintain existing guidelines for businesses like bars, restaurants and hair salons.

Dr. Pedati said she has not seen an updated draft of the proclamation.

“Unfortunately, like other states we have seen a young adult population reporting social interactions and we do want to emphasize that we need people to follow the recommendations that we’re providing,” Pedati said during a Radio Iowa interview. “…If people were to follow those recommendations, you really take away the ability for that virus to move between people.”

The pandemic-related proclamation the governor signed July 24th frequently mentions the need for social distancing, “enhanced hygiene” and other public health measures in all sorts of settings, but it directly mentions requiring face coverings just once — for gamblers playing poker, black jack or roulette at the state-licensed casinos.