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White House Document: Iowa In 'Red Zone' For Coronavirus Cases, More Restrictions Recommended

A report prepared for the White House Coronavirus Task Force says Iowa is one of 18 states that should put some virus-related restrictions back in place because of increasing coronavirus cases.

The document, dated July 14, was obtained and first reported Thursday by the Center for Public Integrity.

It says Iowa is in the “red zone” for new coronavirus cases because last week, Iowans tested positive at a rate higher than 100 people per 100,000 population. Iowa is considered in the “yellow zone” for the rate testing positive, because that was between 5% and 10%.

The document also specifies that five Iowa counties—Webster, Sioux, Franklin, Clarke, and Osceola counties—are in the “red zone.” It recommends that these counties close bars and gyms, limit social gatherings to 10 people or fewer, and discourage indoor restaurant dining.

Forty-two counties—led by Polk, Johnson, Black Hawk, Dubuque and Story counties—are listed in the “yellow zone.” The document recommends those counties close bars, limit gym capacity to 25 percent, and limit social gatherings to 25 people or fewer. It says these recommendations are meant to “preempt exponential community spread” of the coronavirus.

In all 47 counties highlighted by the White House report, the document recommends that public officials “ensure that all business retailers and personal services require masks and can safely social distance.”

The document also says the 47 counties should be testing all workers in assisted living and long-term care facilities each week.

And it asks public officials to “increase messaging on the risk of serious disease for individuals in all age groups with preexisting obesity, hypertension, and diabetes,” and recommend those Iowans shelter in place.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has ended all coronavirus-related closures and removed capacity restrictions on businesses and gatherings.

At a news conference Tuesday, she said she may take a “targeted” approach to new coronavirus-related restrictions as new cases and hospitalizations increase in the state.

“You will not see me shut down the entire state,” Reynolds said. “We know where the increases are taking place. We have some idea what we believe it may be tied to. So we will target our response based on the information that the department of public health and epidemiologist team is collecting.”

Reynolds on Tuesday added she was considering ordering bars back to 50% capacity.

Reynolds has not mandated mask wearing, and she recently said local government officials are not allowed to enforce mask requirements.