Iowa elected officials respond to CDC’s updated mask guidance

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 12:53 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Governor Kim Reynolds fielded questions about the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s change of course regarding mask guidance during a press conference on Wednesday.

It comes after the CDC recommended masks indoors for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status.

“It’s frustrating, it’s confusing, they’re sending mixed messages constantly,” Reynolds said. “I think it’s contradictory, I think it sets us back in what we’re trying to do in encouraging people to get vaccinated.”

Reynolds said she’s been very clear that she wants people to get vaccinated.

Chuck Grassley echoed the sentiment that Iowans should get vaccinated, but said he does not believe the government should be mandating it.

Rep. Ashley Hinson tweeted a statement expressing concern that the new reversal by the CDC will erode public trust in the available vaccines.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said new data emerged recently that led to the reversal in mask guidance, but the CDC has not released the data.

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks called for more transparency in the CDC’s decision-making in a tweet on Wednesday.

“Flip flopping this often only creates confusion and mistrust,” Miller-Meeks wrote.

Gov. Reynolds also questioned the CDC’s new data.

“I haven’t seen the data, they’re not really forthcoming on a lot of data that they’re using to make this change in the guidance,” she said. “And I really haven’t seen any data that would support that states that don’t issue a mask mandate versus states that do issue a mask mandate - that the statistics are that much different.”

Reynolds said the numbers in Iowa look pretty good, with 65 percent of Iowans age 18 and older have had at least one dose of the vaccine and 61 percent having completed the series. She also said the state is at 95 percent for people age 65 and older.

The CDC says 97 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations are unvaccinated.

“I don’t feel that we should punish everybody, because some have made the decision not to [get vaccinated], and I think we’re doing a very good job of continuing to make the vaccines available,” Reynolds said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health has moved to weekly COVID-19 data updates on its website. On Wednesday, the IDPH update showed an increasing number of COVID-19 cases, but the State’s data doesn’t specify how many of the newly reported cases are breakthrough cases versus how many are from those who are unvaccinated. However, the number of COVID-related deaths have not shown an increase, remaining fairly consistent with the number reported in the weeks and months before the data reporting change.

Reynold speculated that one possible reason people may make the choice not to get the vaccine is that they’re relying on natural immunity after having recovered from COVID-19. And none of the available vaccines have been approved for children under the age of 12.

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