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Iowa Board Of Medicine Calls For Shelter-In-Place Order, Governor Defends Her Actions

Hush Naidoo
The Iowa Board of Medicine has recommended that Gov. Kim Reynolds issue a shelter-in-place order.

The Iowa Board of Medicine voted unanimously at an emergency meeting Friday to call on Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a formal shelter-in-place order.

At least thirty-eight other states already have an order that requires people to only leave their home if necessary.

Gov. Reynolds has declined to follow suit, saying she has already issued tough restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as closing bars, restaurant dining rooms and schools, and restricting gatherings to 10 people or fewer.

“The board is supportive and believes she’s done an excellent job of establishing appropriate safeguards,” said Kent Nebel, the executive director of the Iowa Board of Medicine. “But as the spread of the virus gets worse, I think they believe that she needs to take one step further and issue a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order.”

Board of Medicine members are appointed by the governor, and they oversee the licensing and regulation of physicians in the state.

Nebel said the board thinks the order is necessary to ensure people are complying with the recommendations for self-isolation and to protect health care workers.

“Their concern is that individuals or people are not fully complying with the recommendations for self-isolation,” Nebel said. “And that is increasing the risks to both health care providers who are out there providing services and to the public, for spread of the virus.”

Nebel said the decision was made after the Iowa Medical Society, the statewide professional association for doctors, sent a letter to Reynolds recommending that she issue the order for two weeks.

The Board of Medicine’s recommendation did not specify a how long a shelter-in-place order should last.

Reynolds said Friday afternoon she had not yet received the board’s letter.

“I am always interested in getting and hearing the feedback of the medical community,” Reynolds said. “But I would like to have them walk through with our team what we’re already doing and what they see or think that maybe we should take a look at outside of the metrics that we’re already using to make the decisions that we’re making.”

She was also asked to respond to a recent comment by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a White House advisor.

Fauci said on CNN that he doesn’t understand why every state hasn’t issued stay-at-home orders.

“You know, the tension between federally mandated versus states’ rights to do what they want is something I don’t want to get into,” Fauci said. “But if you look at what’s going on in this country, I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that.”

Reynolds asked if Fauci recognized that she has ordered schools and several kinds of businesses to close.

“I would say that maybe he doesn’t have all the information,” Reynolds said. “You can’t just look at a map and assume that no action has been taken. That is completely false.”

She said the substance of the actions she’s taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are the same as other states’ formal shelter-in-place orders.

Reynolds this week began urging all Iowans to stay home as much as possible except for essential errands. She previously focused on asking people who feel sick to stay home.

Natalie Krebs is IPR's Health Reporter
Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter