Today, Governor Reynolds gave a live address to Iowans on COVID19, the need for Iowans to practice safe mitigation efforts, as well as announce new steps to fight the virus in order to protect lives, livelihoods, hospital resources and health care workers.
You can watch that address by clicking here.
Kelsey Kremer from the Des Moines Register served as a pool print photographer. News organizations will be able to access photos here.
Questions can be directed to Des Moines Register Visuals Editor Cecelia Hanley at CHanley@registermedia.com.
REMARKS AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY:
My fellow Iowans…
As you know, our state... like so many across the nation...is seeing a significant increase in the spread of COVID-19. And right now, the pandemic in Iowa is worse than it has ever been.
Over the last two weeks, there have been more than 52,000 new cases of the virus in Iowa. To put that into perspective, we had the same number of cases from the beginning of the pandemic in March to mid-August.
For some Iowans who have experienced the virus first hand, that may not seem like something to worry about. Because for many, Covid-19 has been relatively mild, some having no symptoms at all.
I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful that our children and healthy Iowans have largely been unaffected. But I’m afraid that these mild cases have created a mindset where Iowans have become complacent. Where we’ve lost sight of why it was so important to flatten the curve.
About 5% of Iowans with COVID-19 require hospitalization, and because of the increase we’ve seen over the last two weeks, our healthcare system is being pushed to the brink. The number of Iowans in the hospital with Covid-19 has doubled, to the point where 1 out of every 4 hospital patients has the virus.
So as cases continue to climb, hospitalizations will also grow at a similar pace.
In late October, new daily hospitalizations were just approaching the 100 mark. Now, just a few weeks later, they top 200 a day.
That’s not sustainable.
If our healthcare system exceeds capacity, it’s not just Covid-19 we’ll be fighting. Every Iowan who needs medical care will be put at risk.
If an ambulance is transferring a Covid-19 patient, it’s not available to respond to an accident on a rural county road. If hospital beds are full, a loved one who suffers a heart attack or stroke may have to be transported miles away to receive life-saving treatment.
And it’s not just the emergencies that are of concern. Routine procedures that catch cancer at its early stages will likely be postponed, turning what would be a treatable disease into a terminal diagnosis.
That is what we’re facing, if we don’t do something. Will there be enough first responders to help? Will trauma teams be available? Will you get the care you need?
Not if we don’t act.
That’s why I’m talking directly to you tonight. To ask for your help. Not just as your governor. But as a daughter. As a mother. As a grandmother. It’s up to all of us… so that the worst case scenarios I just described, don’t become our reality.
So tonight I’m announcing additional mitigation measures that will go into effect at midnight.
These measures are targeted toward activities and environments where they have the potential to make a significant impact in a relatively short amount of time.
That doesn’t mean these changes will be easy... or popular. But they’re necessary if we want to keep our businesses open, our kids in school, and our HC system stable.
Starting tomorrow... when you’re in an indoor public space, and unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer, masks are required to be worn.
The same requirements apply to visitors and employees inside State buildings, and I strongly encourage other businesses to follow this lead.
Indoor social, community, business and leisure gatherings or events will be limited to 15 people. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 30. This includes wedding and funeral receptions, family gatherings and conventions.
This does not restrict gatherings that occur in the workplace as part of normal daily business or government operations.
With the exception of high school, collegiate and professional sports, all organized youth and adult sports activities of any size are suspended. This includes basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, swimming, and dance.
While high school sports and extracurricular activities are not prohibited, spectators at games or events are limited to 2 per student and required to wear a mask.
Restaurants and bars are required to close at 10 p.m. and cannot host private gatherings of more than 15 people. Masks must be worn by staff who have direct contact with customers, and customers must wear masks when they are not seated at their table.
And inpatient elective procedures will be reduced by 50%.
All measures will be reassessed in a week, and additional measures could be added based on what we are seeing with hospital capacity.
No one wants to do this. I don’t want to do this, especially as we’re coming into a holiday season that is normally filled with joy. I cherish Thanksgiving with my family, and this year we’re postponing that. My children and grandchildren will not gather together in my home, as we do every year and as I hoped they would this year. But it’s to keep them safe. It’s to keep you safe.
I’m asking you tonight to work with me. To think of your family, your friends, and all of your fellow Iowans. Think of the healthcare heroes who have been taking care of us since the beginning of this pandemic.
I know that it’s been a long eight months. But there is a light at the end of this tunnel. I’m hopeful, as we all are, that a vaccine will be here soon. But until then, it’s important to step up, and slow the spread to make sure that Iowans stay safe. To make sure that our hospitals can treat everyone who needs care.
Before I close, let me make one thing clear: This isn’t about mandates. This isn’t about government. There isn’t enough law enforcement in the country to make sure that every Iowan is wearing a mask when they should. There aren’t enough sheriff’s in Iowa’s 99 counties to shut down every non-compliant bar.
If Iowans don’t buy into this, we lose. Businesses will close once again. More schools will be forced to go online. Our healthcare system will fail, and the cost in human life will be high.
So now is the time to come together for the greater good. To look out for each other--not because you’re told to, but because it’s the right thing to do. That’s who we are as Iowans.
We will get through this--together.
May God continue to watch over us and bless this state.