Masks (copy)

Local Iowan government leaders call on the federal government for COVID-19 relief.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Kim Reynolds held a press conference where she unveiled a new quarantine policy. The policy directly conflicts with the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization for how someone should conduct themselves when they have been potentially exposed to COVID-19.

“My feeling is that the policy is correct if it is adhering to [wearing masks] in the appropriate manner,” Dr. John Paschen, chairman of the Story County Board of Health, said regarding the new policy.

Understanding the rationale that Reynolds gave for the policy, Paschen agreed with the new policy and voiced his satisfaction with the specific language used in proper mask wearing in the policy and the exclusion of face shields as an acceptable mitigation method.

While being in agreement with the new policy, Paschen shared his irritation with the inconsistent response on COVID-19 related conduct. 

Citing that it seems like Reynolds knows masks are vital and that the new policy shows that, he is confused as to why Reynolds has not passed a statewide mask mandate or at least let local municipalities pass their own enforceable mandates.

Mentioning Ames’ own mandate, Paschen voiced his irritation before in a previous article about the ineffective mandate that has been mostly unenforceable. 

Further elaborating on the issue, he applauded local businesses for forcing their patrons into wearing masks and ultimately doing the work he believed Iowa should have allowed them to do in the first place.

Paschen’s irritation is not without basis. As chairman, he receives many emails from Ames’ residents expressing their refusal to wear masks. Knowing that arguing with people about masks is pointless, he believes if local municipalities had the ability to pass enforceable penalty-based mandates on masks, compliance would be much higher and businesses would not have to do the work in place of local enforcement entities to get people to proceed safely.

“When COVID first hit there were a lot of things that came out in medical literature about what would help prevent the spread of it, but the one thing that has risen to the surface as being the best single mitigation measure that you can do is wear a mask,” Paschen said when restating the importance of masks. 

The Story County Department of Health has already sent a penalty-based mask mandate proposal to the Story County Board of Supervisors but is missing the legal ability to implement it due to Reynolds’ order not allowing counties to make their own enforceable mask mandates.

The new quarantine policy has been met with criticism from another authoritative health entity in Iowa, the Iowa Public Health Association. The nonprofit group issued a statement requesting Reynolds to justify the policy through evidence. Reynolds is yet to provide evidence for the policy.

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