White House Task Force Calls For Mask Order in Iowa, More Restrictions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House Coronavirus Task Force says Iowa has the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the country, and recommends major steps to battle the virus.

A Task Force report dated August 30th and released Monday shows says Iowa is in the red zone for cases, with more than 100 cases per 100,000 population last week, and has the highest rate in the country. It says the state has the fifth highest positivity rate in the country.

The Task Force is recommending a statewide mandatory mask order, as well as the closing of bars and a reduction in the capacity of restaurants.

Governor Kim Reynolds closed bars in six counties last Thursday and ordered restaurants to stop serving alcohol after 10 pm, but has continually declined to issue a mask order, recently saying such a requirement would be unenforceable.

The report from the Task Force identifies Polk, Johnson and Story counties as the counties with the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in the past three weeks, accounting for 35.3 percent of the state's new cases. Those counties include the Des Moines metro area as well as the state's two largest college towns, Iowa City and Ames.

The report says 62 percent of all counties in Iowa have ongoing community transmission (yellow or red zone), with 28 percent having high levels of community transmission (red zone).

It's calling for restaurant capacity in red zones to be 25 percent and 50 percent in yellow zones. It's also calling for gatherings to be limited to 10 or fewer people in red zones.

The report says university towns need comprehensive plan including immediate testing for all returning students "with routine surveillance testing to immediately identify new cases and outbreaks and isolate and quarantine".

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