More Iowans are going back to work after a new proclamation from Gov. Kim Reynolds. Starting May 22, movie theaters, zoos, aquariums and museums will be able to reopen as long as they can accommodate reasonable public health measures. Pools will only be allowed to reopen for lap swimming and swimming lessons.
Starting May 28, bars will be allowed to reopen using the same restrictions currently placed on restaurants. Similar to the previous proclamations and as part of the phase-in process for reopening, these establishments will need to allow for social distancing, operate at a reduced capacity, and implement public health measures to reduce the risk of the virus.
Another important part of this new proclamation allows schools to reopen for summer activities, like high school baseball and softball. This includes, like the other re-openings, allowing for social distancing and public health measures.
The state’s coronavirus tracking website, coronavirus.iowa.gov, has also been updated to provide real-time tracking instead of just the daily counts. The number of Iowans tested, positive and negative cases, as well as the number of hospital beds and ventilators available is all accessible on the website. These numbers demonstrate why the state has been reopening, step by step, safely and responsibly. At the beginning of the pandemic in Iowa, the biggest concern was the possibility of overwhelming our health care system so the resources would not be available for anyone who needed care. The whole point in “flattening the curve” was to slow down the spread of coronavirus in Iowa, thereby ensuring necessary care for those who got infected with the virus.
The governor has announced that testing for the virus is available to anyone who wants it. With the expanded testing, across the state and the resources in hospitals that are widely available, the business closures are no longer necessary. We know that the closures caused significant harm to Iowans trying to make a living and provide for their families. While managing the spread of the virus remains a priority, so does ensuring the people of Iowa can continue working, paying their bills, and putting food on the table.
Iowa must move forward while keeping ourselves and others as safe as possible. We’ve seen businesses all across the state take measures to protect their employees and the public. They’re using curbside pickup for groceries, food or medicine. They are putting up partitions between staff and the public or requesting people wear masks in their establishments. Iowans are still encouraged to use social distancing when possible, wear a mask if it is not possible, wash their hands frequently, and limit trips to busy stores. With all these guidelines in place and the additional precautions businesses and other establishments are taking, we can continue with much of our normal life.
As we get ready to reconvene the legislature, I am hearing from more and more Iowans, who are expressing their opinions on various issues that they would like us to consider. I look forward to getting back to work in the Senate, putting together a state budget, and looking at other issues for possible consideration this session.
As always please feel free to contact me with your ideas or concerns.