Governor slowly rolls back COVID-19 restrictions

by Travis Fischer

Additional social distancing restrictions were lifted this week as Iowa slowly rolls back COVID-19 preventive measures.

On Wednesday, May 6, Governor Kim Reynolds announced that restrictions on dentists, campgrounds, drive-in movie theaters, tanning facilities, and medical spas will be partially lifted. Effective May 8, dentists in the state were allowed to resume providing services so long as they comply with reopening guidelines adopted by the Iowa Dental Board.  Like hospitals reopening for elective surgeries, dentists must have an adequate inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE) and have access to a reliable supply chain that does not rely on state reserves.

Similarly, the statewide reopening of campgrounds, drive-in theaters, tanning facilities, and medical spas must be met with the social distancing requirements seen in other reopening businesses, such as keeping patrons six feet apart from each other and frequent cleanings.

In addition, fitness centers, malls, and retail stores in the 22 counties where COVID-19 has hit hardest have been allowed to re-open under the same conditions as those businesses in the other 77 counties. The governor previously allowed the limited re-opening of businesses in counties that had been less stricken by the virus, noting that it was unfair for those counties to be held to the same standards as those with a high number of cases.

Reopening businesses in the counties that continue to see sharp increases in COVID-19 cases has drawn criticism as these counties don’t meet the recommended guidelines for reopening. However the governor said that the re-openings were a matter of fairness as businesses in other counties have been allowed to reopen.

“Iowans will make the decision whether they want to go to the facility or not,” said Reynolds. “If you don’t feel comfortable going to these establishments, then don’t go.”

As was the case last week, laid-off employees of businesses in these 22 counties will risk losing their unemployment benefits if they choose not to return to work when called back.

As of Monday, May 11, there have been 12,373 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, increasing the 9,169 total from the week prior by 30 percent. This means that 23 percent of all of Iowa’s COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic were found in that seven day period. This is the first week since the start of the pandemic that the number of new cases has decreased from the previous week.

The vast majority of these cases con-

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