DES MOINES — In a seven-minute prime-time address to Iowans Monday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced more mitigation rules as the state tries to slow the rampant, exponential spread of the coronavirus.
The Republican governor implored Iowans not to be complacent with the COVID-19 pandemic, warning the state's health system is unable to sustain the record volume of virus patients.
"If our healthcare system exceeds capacity, it's not just COVID-19 we will be fighting," she said. "Every Iowan who needs medical care will be put at risk. If an ambulance is transferring a COVID-19 patient, it may not be 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 a stroke may have to be transported miles away to receive life-saving treatment."
Reynolds said while many cases of COVID-19 have been mild, the disease can have fatal impacts. Even while many Iowans experience mild symptoms, about 5% have required hospitalization at some point, Reynolds said.
Among the new mitigation requirements that go in effect Tuesday until Dec. 10, are:
— Masks are required to be worn in an indoor public space if people are unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer.
— Indoor events and gatherings are limited to 15 people and outdoor gatherings are limited to 30 people. These gatherings include funeral and wedding receptions, family gatherings and conventions. Gatherings that occur in the workplace as part of normal operations are not restricted.
— High school, collegiate and professional sports may continue in the state. Reynolds, however, suspended all youth and adult organized sports in Iowa. Her previously announced spectator limits for high school sports and mask mandate, remain in effect.
— Restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls, bingo halls and indoor playgrounds 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 to eat or drink.
— At casinos, masks are required at all times.
— Hospitals are required to reduce inpatient elective procedures by 50%.
Reynolds closed a rare prime-time address for a governor by imploring Iowans to come together to mitigate virus spread. She also warned if the spread of COVID-19 continues to tax hospitals that another shutdown may loom.
"If Iowans don't buy into this, we lose," she said. "Businesses will close once again, more schools will be forced to go online, and our healthcare system will fail and our cost in human life will be high."
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-IA, joined Reynolds in calling for Iowans to do their part. "Everyone should consider what they can do in their own way to help keep their families and communities safe and healthy," he said.
Both Grassley and Reynolds said they are canceling their own Thanksgiving Day gatherings this year.