Reynolds doesn’t plan to reinstate COVID restrictions, as cases rise in certain parts of Iowa

Iowa seeing decrease in testing but increase in positive cases
Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 10:53 PM CDT
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KEOTA, Iowa (KCRG) - Certain counties in Iowa are experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, which Gov. Kim Reynolds attributed to more testing throughout the entire state.

But the data shows that’s not the whole story.

According to figures from the state’s coronavirus website, Johnson County is seeing a decrease in testing but a slight increase in positive cases, with the county’s positivity rate rising to about 13% on Monday. From May 6 to June 16, the state reported Johnson County’s rate of positive cases was no higher than 6%.

Dubuque County’s testing has remained at about the same level since late May, but its positivity rate is climbing too, with the state reporting a 19% positivity rate Monday, the highest that number had been since May 8.

In Scott County, the number of people tested daily is decreasing, while the percentage of people testing positive is also moving up, to 14% on Monday. That’s the highest it had been since April 21.

During a stop Tuesday in Keota on her 99 County Tour, Reynolds said she will probably extend the state’s current public health emergency proclamation, which expires Thursday, but won’t add any restrictions. That proclamation, which Reynolds signed on June 10, eased capacity restrictions on most businesses across the state while still requiring some social distancing measures.

“Nope, there’s no need to do that,” Reynolds said when asked about the possibility of reinstating restrictions. “I mean, we can really monitor and watch it, and things are heading in the right direction, and we can continue to do that, but right now, things are looking good, and we’re hoping that Iowans continue to do what they’ve been doing, and we’ll continue to see our numbers decrease.”

Though positivity rates of people being tested are rising in some of the state’s key population areas, including Davenport, Dubuque, and Iowa City, Reynolds said Iowans shouldn’t be focusing on that metric because she said it doesn’t accurately depict the situation in Iowa.

Instead, she said Iowans should be looking at the number of people hospitalized across the state, which had dropped to 140 people on Tuesday.

She also said the overall positivity rate of people tested for the virus in Iowa has fallen too. As of Tuesday, that figure was at 10%, the first time it hit double-digits since May 26. It hovered around 30% from mid-April through the end of April.

Reynolds pointed out that most of the newer cases are people age 40 and younger.

“It’s a younger population, and as long as we’re not seeing that equate to hospitalization, a lot of the individuals that are testing positive are actually asymptomatic. So we have to remember as Iowans, for the majority of the people that get COVID, they don’t — you know, mild flu-like symptoms,” Reynolds said. “It’s our vulnerable Iowans, about 20%, 65 and older, that have underlying health conditions — young people, too, that have underlying health conditions — those are the individuals that still need to be very careful.”

Reynolds’ stop at Keota Meat Processing wrapped up a two-day leg of her 99 County Tour, during which she came under some criticism for photos on her Twitter page, showing her not wearing a mask on a few of those visits. That included a photo in which Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg stood shoulder-to-shoulder with several Iowa State Patrol troopers, with none of them wearing face coverings.

“It depends on where I’m at,” Reynolds said, noting she had worn a mask during other stops on the tour. “We stood in front of a camera, took a quick picture, and took off. We weren’t talking to each other. We weren’t talking. We stood there and smiled.”

Reynolds called the decision of whether to wear a mask a personal choice.

“If you can social distance, then you don’t need to wear a mask. You have to talk and have interaction for a length of time before you’re at risk,” she said. “So, you know, I think Iowans will do what they need to do. They’re being responsible. They’re taking safe measures, so it’s a personal choice. If you feel that you are vulnerable or it’s important for you to wear a mask, by all means, do that. But if you feel that you can social distance, and you feel that you’re safe, then you don’t have to either.”

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