Iowa Governor announces extension and expansion of closures due to COVID-19

JOHNSTON, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced an expansion of a prior emergency proclamation that postpones nonessential surgeries and expands business closures.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus during a news conference at the State Emergency Operations Center, Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Johnston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, Pool)

On Thursday, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases was 179 in Iowa. There were 31 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday night and 891 tests available in Iowa, according to Reynolds.

Reynolds said 23 counties were receiving personal protective equipment Thursday that was being delivered by the National Guard.

The governor said existing closures will be extended one week until April 7. Governor Reynolds ordered additional retails closures including book stores; clothing and shoe stores; jewelry stores; luggage stores; cosmetic, perfume and beauty supply stores; furniture stores; florists and home furnishing stores.

All nonessential surgeries such as dental or cosmetic surgeries will be postponed starting Friday evening. The exception to the suspension is emergency surgeries.

"These actions will help us preserve the personal protective equipment as well as our health care work force," Reynolds said.

Reynolds said that health insurance companies will reimburse health care providers for telehealth at the same rate as an in-person visit.

Nursing homes will have enhanced staff health screenings.

She also said schools should remain closed until April 13, as previously stated. When the initial announcement of school closures was made, Reynolds said that in two weeks she would reevaluate, and she has decided to maintain the April 13 date.

Reynolds also said she believes the number of daily positive cases in Iowa will stabilize or decline next week.

"We believe and hope that next week we will start to see (the number of positive cases) come down or stabilize a little bit, based on the policies we've put in place," the governor said.