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Reynolds defends lifting pandemic restrictions

JOHNSTON — During a news conference with reporters this morning, Governor Reynolds defended her decision on Friday to lift mask mandates and gathering limits she established in mid-November when the number of COVID patients in Iowa hospitals escalated to levels not previously seen during the pandemic.

Reynolds says hospitalizations have drastically dropped when compared to November.   “(Tuesday), there were 292 Iowans hospitalized due to COVID-19. That is an 80% decrease since our all-time high in mid-November, and it’s the first time since September that hospitalizations have dropped below 300. Additionally, 49 new patients were admitted in the last 24 hours, and that’s down from a high of 243 in mid-November. 67 patients were in ICUs and that’s down 90% from record levels during that same time frame.”

Reynolds says there are fewer outbreaks in the state’s long-term care facilities.  “Our long-term care facility outbreaks have dropped to 33 from an all-time high of 166 long-term care outbreaks, and we continue to see that number decline, and we continue to see outbreaks among residents and staff decline as well.”

Reynolds says the “days to double” statistic is three times as better now when compared to mid-November.  “Back in November in the midst of the surge, the projected number of days that total cases would double was just 33 days. Today, it’s at 94 days to double our cases. This is one of those metrics that’s best when it’s higher, and 94 is as high as it’s ever been going all the way back to the start of the pandemic. We’re continuing our recovery in a strong position, and while the pandemic is not over, Iowans have proven again that we can manage it while living our lives responsibly and normally.”

Reynolds says the measures she put in place in November worked.   “Iowans doubled down and it made all the difference. Over time, COVID cases dropped, hospitalizations stabilized, and we began to relax some of the extra mitigation measures, because as I said from the beginning they were never intended to be in place permanently. My approach has been consistent from the very beginning of COVID-19. When virus activity increase, we will dial mitigation efforts up in response, and when it comes back down, we will adjust accordingly.”

The governor had required masks to be worn inside certain businesses, like hair salons and barber shops. People attending funerals, weddings and other gatherings were required to socially distance. All of those requirements ended Sunday.

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