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Democratic lawmakers say Gov. Reynolds lifted mask mandate without consulting state experts

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 4:04 PM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - Some Democratic state lawmakers in Iowa said that Gov. Kim Reynolds did not ask her public health department before lifting mask requirements in the state.

Rep. Lindsay James (D-Dubuque) and Sen. Claire Celsi (D-West Des Moines) both posted to their Twitter accounts about a call between Democrats in the legislature and Kelly Garcia, the interim director for the Iowa Department of Public Health. Both claimed that Reynolds decided to remove the facial covering rules for Iowa without consulting staff in the IDPH, based on the call on Monday.

“Just listened in to a call with Legislative Democrats and IDPH director Kelly Garcia. She stated that the Governor made the decision to rescind the mask mandate and did not ask IDPHs opinion on the matter,” Celsi wrote, in the post.

Reynolds issued the new public health proclamation on Friday, removing restrictions on businesses and state mask requirements. The new proclamation went into effect on Sunday.

According to television station WOI, James said that making the decision without consulting the state’s public health department was “mind-boggling.”

“The only sense I can make of that is this is all about politics,” James told WOI. “She made a reckless decision ... I don’t think this was about the public’s health.”

Pat Garrett, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, said that the decision was “consistent” with previous decisions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The governor has been consistent since the beginning of the pandemic and is following through with her commitment to dial back restrictions based on a significant decrease in COVID hospitalizations,” Garrett said.

Multiple counties and cities have issued statements since Reynolds’ proclamation, saying that local mask mandates would still be in effect despite the governor’s changes. Some restaurants have indicated they would maintain the same level of COVID-19-related restrictions beyond the deadline.

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