Linn County supervisor disagrees with state's 'metrics' approach to considering shelter-in-place order

Published: Apr. 2, 2020 at 9:24 PM CDT
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Gov. Kim Reynolds has repeatedly said that the state is deciding whether or not to issue a shelter-in-place order based on “metrics” and data points, but there haven’t been many details about this system.

On Thursday, the Iowa Department of Public Health released exactly how it’s evaluating what guidance to give Iowans, based on data on both a state and regional level.

IDPH is using a points system broken into four categories: the percent of the population older than 65; the percent of identified cases requiring hospitalization; the rates per 100,000 people in the last 14 days; and the number of long-term care outbreaks.

In each category, different responses are assigned different number of values of up to 3 points. If the responses from all four categories total to 10 points or more, that is the point at which Gov. Reynolds will issue a statewide shelter-in-place order.

Currently, the state reports its total is between 4 and 9 points, falling short of the shelter-in-place requirements, and when Iowa is considered on a regional level, broken into six separate regions across the state, those totals are each short of 10 as well, according to state officials.

Reynolds and Dr. Caitlin Pedati, state epidemiologist for IDPH, stood by this system Thursday, and have said these metrics are the most consistent way to make decisions for all Iowans.

“Then it allows us to have some flexibility to continue to not only address the supply chain to make sure that those essential workers that are on the line know that they’re appreciated and feel comfortable continuing to come to work,” Reynolds said.

However, this system has

from medical experts and elected officials, who are calling for Reynolds to issue the shelter-in-place order as more than half of U.S. governors have already done.

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker said he believes the state needs a different approach than its metrics, given the severity of the situation.

“We’re talking life safety here, and I think we need to have a little more urgency when it comes to doing everything we can to protect the residents of this state,” Walker said.

When asked why she hasn’t issued a shelter-in-place order, Reynolds also contends that the steps the state has taken so far to prevent the virus’ spread,

, essentially amount to a shelter in place.

“I would challenge other Iowans out there to take a look at what some of the other states are doing, take a look at Iowa,” Reynolds said. “I’ve extended most of them through April 30, and then we have additional things that we’re looking at, that we may need to ramp up if the numbers and the data drive us to do that.”

But Walker argued this doesn’t ensure all Iowans are following the same rules, while a shelter-in-place order would.

“And if we can’t achieve that, then I think we need to petition the governor to at least have a regional shelter-in-place order. Counties and cities need the ability from the governor to be able to issue this,” he said.

Last week, Reynolds clarified that local governments don’t have the authority to issue local stay-at-home order, and she said Monday that she is not considering giving them that authority.