Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency activating the public health response and recovery aspects of the State Disaster Emergency Plan effective at noon on March 17, 2020.

Changes ordered are based on the facts that:

  • multiple cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Iowa, and the Iowa Department of Public Health has determined that community spread is occurring;
  • COVID-19 can spread person-to-person and can cause severe illness, disability and/or death in certain populations; 
  • the risk of transmission of COVID-19 may be substantially reduced by separating and restricting the movement of persons known or suspected to have the disease or known or suspected of having been exposed to the disease, and
  • community containment strategies may include temporarily closing schools and other public venues.

The proclamation also allows state agencies additional flexibility in responding to the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, and supports the critical work of public health. 

Key points of the Governor’s proclamation are as follows:

“I hereby proclaim a STATE OF PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTER EMERGENCY throughout the entire state of Iowa and do hereby ORDER and DIRECT the following: effective Noon today, March 17, 2020, and continuing until 11:59 p.m. on March 31, 2020:

A.   Restaurants and Bars: All Restaurants and Bars are hereby closed to the general public except that to the extent permitted by applicable law, and in accordance with any recommendations of the Iowa Department of Public Health, food and beverages may be sold if such food or beverages are promptly taken from the premises, such as on a carry-out or drive-through basis, or if the food or beverage is delivered to customers off the premises.

B. Fitness Center: All fitness centers, health clubs, health spas, gyms, aquatic centers are hereby closed.

C.   Theaters: All theaters or other performance venues at which live performances or or motion pictures are shown are hereby closed.

D.   Casinos and Gaming Facilities: All casinos and other facilities conducting pari-mutuel wagering or gaming operations are hereby closed.

E. Mass Gathering: Social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure, and sporting gatherings and events of more than 10 people are hereby prohibited at all locations and venues, including but not limited to parades, festivals, conventions, and fundraisers. Planned large gatherings and events must be canceled or postponed until after termination of this disaster.

F. Senior Citizen Centers and Adult Daycare Facilities:  All facilities that conduct adult day services or other senior citizen centers are hereby closed.”

Additionally, seeking to facilitate the services that will be needed and the ability to close various venues, the proclamation relaxes rules on or allows the following:

  • health facilities operating additional bed capacity;
  • provisions of telehealth or telemedicine services;
  • practice of medicine and surgery, osteopathic medicine and surgery, nursing, respiratory care, and practice as a physician assistant, with an inactive or lapsed license;
  • minimum number of hours of field experience required in a health practitioner preparation program;
  • driver’s license, title, and vehicle registration requirements;
  • oversize and overweight loads;
  • dealers being required to accept empty beverage containers on which an Iowa deposit was made;
  • prohibiting pay to those State of Iowa employees for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek while present in the State’s Emergency Operations Center or otherwise engaged in assigned disaster response missions or other activities, and
  • requirements that agencies involved in the response to this disaster emergency procure goods and services through a competitive selection process.

“These are unprecedented times and the state of Iowa will do whatever is necessary to address this public health disaster. I have authorized all available state resources, supplies, equipment and materials to combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Reynolds. “The actions taken today are necessary to protect the health and safety of all Iowans and are critical to mitigating the spread of the virus.”

This state of disaster emergency shall be effective immediately on March 16, 2020, shall continue for thirty (30) days, and shall expire on April 16, 2020, at 11:59 p.m., unless sooner terminated or extended in writing by me. Iowa Code § 29C.6 (1).

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