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Survey: older Iowans want COVID safety measures to stay in place

DES MOINES, Iowa — States like Iowa have lifted COVID-19 restrictions amid a gradual decline in case activity and promising news on vaccinations, but new survey results say most older residents want businesses to keep safety in mind as they welcome back customers.

In a statewide survey from AARP Iowa, 95% of respondents age 50 and older said mask mandates make them feel somewhat or extremely safe.

Brad Anderson, state director for AARP Iowa, said he hopes the business community takes that result very seriously.

“Masks are king in Iowa and older Iowans do expect shopkeepers, restaurants and anywhere indoors; grocery stores, to keep those mask mandates in place,” Anderson asserted.

Respondents also indicated strong support for other safety measures, such as increasing outdoor dining rather than indoor.

The Iowa Department of Public Health said more than 200,000 Iowans have now been fully vaccinated, and case averages have declined, as well as COVID hospitalizations.

Anderson noted older Iowans command a lot of spending power.

He suggested it would be wise for businesses struggling to recover from shutdowns and restrictions to respond to the concerns of this age group, given how it’s been affected by the virus.

“This is a life-or-death issue for them, and it makes sense that, you know, there’s some hesitation to jump back into life as normal,” Anderson observed.

State health department data show Iowans age 50 and older make up 98% of COVID-related deaths, and nearly 70% of current hospitalizations.

The statewide survey was conducted in January.

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