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Iowa's COVID-19 Hospitalizations Hit Record High; Reynolds Has No New Policies To Slow The Spread

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds waits during a news conference on the state's response to the coronavirus, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Johnston, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall
AP file
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds waits during a news conference on the state's response to the coronavirus, Sept. 29 in Johnston.

Iowa’s COVID-19 hospitalizations hit an all-time high Tuesday evening, but Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday she is not putting any new mitigation measures in place to slow the spread of the virus.

“This is disappointing news, and sadly, it’s what can happen when we are experiencing community spread,” Reynolds said.

The state reported 444 people were hospitalized in Iowa with coronavirus Tuesday, breaking the previous record of 417 in early May. As of Wednesday, 1,415 Iowans were reported to have died of COVID-19.

Reynolds said high infection rates in northwest Iowa counties are contributing to increased hospitalizations, especially among adults over the age of 60 and those with risk factors for severe illness.

IPR asked Reynolds what she will do to help bring down community spread, and Reynolds said Iowans should take personal responsibility and do things like wash their hands and wear a mask.

“We’re going to continue to remind people that those are the things they can do to help us mitigate community spread, and they’re doing that,” Reynolds said.

She said Iowa’s hospital resources aren’t close to being overwhelmed. But the White House Coronavirus Task Force recently said in a report that Iowa’s high rate of new infections puts the state in a “vulnerable” position going into flu season.

Reynolds said President Trump getting COVID-19 is a reminder that the virus can reach anyone.

“But the president is also right. We can’t let COVID-19 dominate our lives,” Reynolds said. “And that’s exactly why we’ve taken the steps we have these last seven months to balance both the lives and livelihoods of Iowans.”

As Americans were learning about the severity of Trump’s illness over the weekend, Reynolds was photographed at a Trump campaign event in a room full of people not wearing masks. She was asked about that Wednesday.

“We were outdoors. It was raining. They asked if we would come in,” Reynolds said. “So we moved in for a very short period of time. [I] had the mask when I went in there. I take it off when I speak. But I had it on nearly almost all of the rest of the time.”

Reynolds has repeatedly refused to implement many of the policies recommended by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and continues to decline to issue a mask mandate. She also allowed bars to reopen in Johnson and Story counties, where bars were linked to an earlier spike in cases in college towns.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter