Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued the state’s first mask mandate as coronavirus spiked in the last two weeks after months of disparaging face covering restrictions as “feel good” measures.
Reynolds, a Republican, announced Monday evening that all people above the age of 2 were required to wear face coverings indoors as the state’s health care system was being “pushed to the brink.”
“The pandemic in Iowa is the worst it has ever been,” the governor said. “No one wants to do this. I don’t want to do this.”
The three-week proclamation, which goes into effect on Tuesday, limited social gatherings to no more than 15 people indoors and 30 outdoors. The directive also restricted the operating hours of bars and restaurants between 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., while permitting takeout and drive-through services outside of that time window.
“If Iowans don’t buy into this, we lose,” Reynolds said. “Businesses will close once again, more schools will be forced to go online, and our health care system will fail.”
Download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak
“The cost in human life will be high,” she said.
On Monday, Iowa logged 3,283 new cases and 34 deaths, bringing the total case count to almost 190,000 cases and death count to more than 2,000 in the state, according to the John Hopkins University Covid-19 dashboard. The dire numbers came as the United States crossed the 11 million Covid-19 case mark on Sunday.
In July, the White House Coronavirus Task Force prepared an unpublished document that identified and recommended 18 states with more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population shut down, the Center for Public Integrity reported.
At the time of the document’s reporting, Reynolds only recommended Iowans wear masks in public and did not require it, the Quad City Times reported.
In an interview with WHO-AM radio on Jul. 15, Reynolds resisted calls to issue a mask mandate for the state.
“No, I’m not going to mandate masks,” Reynolds said. “There’s no way to enforce it. Most of the states or entities that have done that, they’ve actually gone as far as to say we’re not going to enforce it, so it’s just kind of a feel good.”