Iowa shifts focus from COVID-19 mitigation to containment
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Iowa shifts focus from COVID-19 mitigation to containment

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Virus Outbreak Iowa

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference at the State Emergency Operations Center on last Thursday in Johnston.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Thanks to Iowans following coronavirus mitigation strategies such as social distancing and avoiding large gatherings, Gov. Kim Reynolds said the state is able to shift its COVID-19 focus from mitigation to containment.

Even as the number of new cases continues to climb, Reynolds said Iowa is successfully dealing with COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of 231 Iowans.

As she continues to allow more businesses to reopen, Reynolds said credit goes to Iowans for responding to targeted mitigation efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent health care systems from being overwhelmed.

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“I'm proud to say that Iowans do what they always do and they responded,” Reynolds said during her daily news conference Thursday. “So since we've kind of really accomplished what we were trying to do ... now we have shifted our focus from mitigation and resources to managing and containing virus activity as we begin to open Iowa back up.”

That means that beginning Friday, dentists may resume providing services, and campgrounds, drive-in movie theaters, tanning facilities and medical spas all may re-open. Her latest proclamation also relaxes mitigation strategies in the 22 counties that remain under more strict orders because the virus is more widespread there. In those 22 counties, beginning Friday, malls and retail stores may reopen provided they operate at no more than 50 percent of capacity, and fitness centers may reopen on an appointment basis only.

Her new guidelines are in effect until May 15. Data about COVID-19 will continue to drive her decisions about reopening the state economy “in a responsible manner,” Reynolds said.

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“Just as we can't stop the virus completely, we also can't keep businesses closed and our life restricted indefinitely,” she said.

Although the numbers deaths and Iowans testing positive for COVID-19 continues to increase, Reynolds, who met with President Donald Trump and his coronavirus advisers Wednesday, said she is proud of the state’s efforts.

“We are leading, and we're leading by example. And we're going to continue to lead,” she said. “We are in a pandemic. We have a rapidly changing environment. We are reacting and being proactive.”

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That includes testing at hotspots, such as meatpacking plants, “so of course, our positive cases are going to increase,” she said.

Iowa’s COVID-19 response may not be perfect, Reynolds said, “but I think we're doing everything we can to really take care of Iowans in a responsible way (and) also to get the economy up and going so Iowans can get back to work and we can do everything we can to get our life somewhat back to normal.”

Just as it will be up to business owners, churches and others to decide whether they are comfortable reopening, Reynolds said it will be up to Iowans to decide for themselves whether they want to venture out.

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“Iowan to need to make those individuals choices themselves,” Reynolds said. “They need to apply personal responsibility, take into account where they're going, what they're doing.”

Reynolds also said Trump asked Iowa Director of Public Health Caitlin Pedati to be a member of his coronavirus task force after Pedati briefed the president on Iowa’s efforts to mitigate COVID-19.

However, later Thursday, White House officials told Bloomberg News is not “officially” a member of the task force, but may be consulted.

The governor’s office declined to comment.

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Comments (319) 398-8375; James.Lynch@TheGazette.com

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