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PUBLIC HEALTH

Reynolds declines to order shelter-in-place in northeast Iowa

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Northeast Iowa has crossed a threshold that Gov. Kim Reynolds previously said might trigger a shelter-in-place order, but she took little new action today to stem the spread of the new coronavirus in that region.

This morning, Reynolds announced a new order that bars most social gatherings with non-household members in the counties that the state identifies as region six, which includes Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Grundy, Howard, Jones, Linn and Winneshiek counties.

That region now scores a 10 on a 12-point scale that tracks infection rates, hospitalization rates and outbreaks at long-term care facilities for older residents.

In the weeks that followed the first coronavirus infections in Iowa, Reynolds repeatedly referred to that series of metrics as her guide to decide whether to order Iowans to stay home unless they perform an essential job or need to make an essential trip. The score of 10 was the threshold. But in recent weeks, as the scores have crept closer to that number, Reynolds has said other factors would be considered as well for any shelter-in-place orders.

Iowa is among a handful of states that has not had one of the orders.

Instead, Reynolds said the state would ramp up its testing for coronavirus cases.

"As we do more testing and we learn more every day ... we'll have a better idea of where some of the hot spots are," Reynolds said this morning.

There were seven new coronavirus deaths reported today, which is the most the state has reported in a single day so far. There were 146 new confirmed cases, but none of those were in Carroll County or its neighboring counties.

Two new outbreaks at long-term care facilities for older Iowans have been reported in Linn and Muscatine counties. Such outbreaks have resulted in nearly half of the 60 total coronavirus deaths in Iowa.

Schools and business that were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic are set to reopen next month, and Reynolds has said extensions of school closures would be announced at least two weeks in advance, which would be Friday.

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