Gov. Kim Reynolds provided additional updates for her new proclamation opening bars in multiple counties across the state, as well as responding to Des Moines Public School Districts' new plan to move forward with school in her press conference on Wednesday.
New approach to monitoring bars
Reynolds expanded on her recent proclamation to reopen bars in four of the six counties that had to shut down bars on Aug 27. Reynolds said that bars in Black Hawk, Linn, Polk and Dallas counties will be allowed to reopen starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Back on Aug 27, when Reynolds made the decision to shut down bars across the six counties in Iowa, the large spikes in positive cases in those counties didn't allow for the state to take time and look through which specific businesses were following protocols more than others.
This lack of examination given toward certain businesses left many business owners frustrated. Reynolds acknowledged this frustration and said the state now has created faster and more precise guidelines to target and fine/shut down bars who can't follow state guidelines, rather than having to punish the bar community as a whole.
Now moving forward, the state will be able to specifically target “bad actors” in counties that reopen.
Reynolds said Dallas County's 14 day positivity rate is decreasing, while Black Hawk, Polk, Linn and Story County are remains stable. Johnson County's 14-day positivity rate, home of the University of Iowa, is "beginning to stabilize".
“We’re making progress and we need to stay the course of mitigation and containment as a state, as communities across our state and as individuals," Reynolds said.
Frustration with Des Moines Public School District
The Des Moines public school district voted 4-3 Tuesday to prepare to implement a return to a hybrid learning model, a decision that Reynolds called "disappointing" for the students in Iowa's largest school district.
Reynolds said "there is no clear sense for how and when that will happen" and that the school district's plan for less than the state's required minimum of 50 percent in-person learning, has not gotten any closer to compiling with state guidelines on return to schooling.
“When Des Moines public schools submitted their return to learn plan to the state on July 1, they presented a hybrid plan that was close to being in compliant with state law, but instead of working with the Department of Education to get into compliance, the district went backwards,” Reynolds said.
The governor continually pointed out that 326 of the 327 school districts in Iowa have figured out ways to return to school that fits in line with the state's compliance measures.
Reynolds said she expressed frustration that the school districts' challenges in courts have continually sided with the state, leaving Reynolds to say that "continues to slow walk compliance weeks into the school year."
“Again when I think there’s a will, there’s a way," Reynolds said
Big 10 football returns
Outside of the governor's announcements on Wednesday, the Big 10 Conference reversed its original course and announced it plans on returning to play football starting Oct. 23.
One of Iowa's biggest public universities, the University of Iowa, plays in the Big 10, bringing football back to Johnson County in just over a month.
With Johnson County bars remaining closed through Sept. 20, Reynolds was asked if new measures will need to be added for Johnson County bars on game day Saturdays to slow spread throughout the community.
“We’ll keep the criteria in place for the bars through Sept. 20, we’ll re evaluate every day," Reynolds said.
When asked about the possibility of bringing fans back into the stands at Kinnick Stadium, Reynolds said that decision is up to Johnson County officials.
“That is a decision made by the University of Iowa and the Regents so I really don’t have anything to do with that, again, I think we can do these things in a safe and responsible manner and put mitigation plans in place [for fans in stands] but that’s a decision they will have to make," Reynolds said.