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Iowa governor recommends schools to close statewide for four weeks; 22 COVID-19 positive cases

KAAL-TV
Updated: March 15, 2020 11:21 PM
Created: March 15, 2020 08:13 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced Sunday night that she recommends for schools statewide to be closed for four weeks.  

In a statement, Reynolds said that this decision is based on the discovery of the existence of substantial community spread of COVID-19 in the state.

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“Based on new information today from the Iowa Department of Public Health, now is the time to move to the next level of response,” Gov. Reynolds stated. “I am now recommending that all Iowa schools close for a period of four weeks to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Gov. Reynolds is making this recommendation in consultation with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and based on CDC guidelines.

Earlier Sunday, IDPH was notified of four additional positive cases of Iowans with COVID-19, for a total of 22 positive cases. According to IDPH, two cases are related to international travel. The individuals are residents of Allamakee County, one is a middle-age adult between 41-60 years; the other is a child, age 0-18 years. The third case is a middle-age Johnson County resident with no identified travel-related risk or exposure to a known COVID-19 case, and is considered the second case of community spread in Iowa. The fourth individual resides in Polk County and is a middle-age adult and indicates a third case of community spread. 

One of Sunday's new cases was the first Iowa test conducted by a national lab. With testing options now expanding, Iowa expects the numbers of positive cases to increase. The governor will hold a press conference on Monday. The press conference will be open to credentialed members of the press and streamed on her Facebook page. 

The state of Iowa is developing policies to ensure continued access to child care during this time of emergency, including meals for low income students.  

Also Sunday, Gov. Reynolds signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency continuing the proclamation signed on March 9, allowing retailers that sell liquor, beer, wine, carbonated beverages, and other beverages with an Iowa beverage container deposit to stop accepting empty cans and bottles for the duration of this disaster emergency.

On Sunday evening, the CDC updated its mass gathering guidance to postpone for the next 8 weeks any events with 50 or more people.  The goal is to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus. This recommendation is not intended to supersede the advice of local public health officials.


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