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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Reynolds extends public health proclamation through next week with 'minimal changes'

The latest proclamation will ease restrictions on elective procedures from 50% to 25% due to the decrease in virus hospitalizations.

JOHNSTON, Iowa — Wednesday morning, Gov. Kim Reynolds extended the state's Proclamation of Disaster Emergency through Dec. 16 with "minimal changes" to the order. 

The proclamation was set to expire at midnight on Thursday.

"Organized sports and recreational events including bowling leagues may resume for use youth and adults but spectators are still limited to two per participant," the governor explained at the press conference. 

Reynolds also said the same two-spectator rule that applies to high school athletes will be extended to spectators for cheerleaders, band members and others performing at high school sporting events. 

The governor added that last call and in-person service for bars, casinos, restaurants and other venues that serve alcohol will be at 10 p.m. 

Governor spokesman Pat Garrett told Local 5 Wednesday evening that if bars and restaurants stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. then they no longer need to close.

The proclamation says restaurants and bars "must not sell or serve food or beverages for consumption on its premises after 10:00 p.m. and may not reopen until 4:00 a.m. the following day."

However, this doesn't prohibit these businesses from continuing to serve food and beverages if the items are "promptly" taken from the premises, like carry-out and drive-thru services. 

Due to the decrease in hospitalizations, Reynolds eased restrictions on elective procedures from 50% to 25%. 

Reynolds said she extended the proclamation one week because her team is continuously monitoring virus activity in the state. 

"We look at it on a daily basis, we review it on a daily basis, we review it on a weekly basis," Reynolds said. "We still have a long ways to go on our hospitals, but they are seeing some relief. I've said all along, we'll dial up and we'll dial back as appropriate and so that's the same thing that we've done from the beginning of the pandemic."

The proclamation continues to require masks for people when they're in an indoor space and unable to practice social distancing for 15 minutes or longer.

Reynolds' push to get kids back in the classroom

During the press conference, Reynolds addressed concerns about kids not learning in the classroom. November's surge in cases and hospitalizations forced many districts to apply for a waiver to learn online. 

Reynolds has pushed throughout the entire pandemic for kids to be in the classroom, citing mental health and possible abuse concerns.

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According to Reynolds, the virus has occurred less frequently in children than in adults. Since the start of the pandemic, Reynolds said children up to the age of 10 account for 4% of all positive cases in Iowa. 

Around 3% of cases are attributed to children between 11 and 14 years old. and kids 15 to 18 years old make up 6% of Iowa virus cases.

Reynolds acknowledged that kids of all ages can be infected with COVID-19 and spread it, but then said kids are less likely to transmit the virus. 

"When positive cases do occur in schools, it's more likely that the virus is introduced by adult teachers and staff," Reynolds said. "Transmission within schools occur most often between staff members, less often among staff and students, and it rarely occurs from student to student." 

Reynolds said this information is applicable to Iowa schools even though the state only has data from some districts. 

"Since the start of the school year among schools reporting, less than 2% of Iowa's K-12 students have been infected with the virus," Reynolds reported. She said most cases were due to exposure outside the school. 

Reynolds then turned to the mental health impact that the virus has already made on kids in Iowa.

"In fact, the CDC has said that schools are the safest place for kids to be and that it's school closures that can have a negative effect on their health, well being and development," Reynolds said. 

The governor invited a mother from Ankeny to speak at the press conference, where both of them advocated for students to be in the classroom five days a week. 

Reynolds pushed for districts to allow parents to choose whether their child(ren) should learn 100% online or in-person. 

Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Thomas Ahart provided the following statement on the governor's press conference Wednesday:

"Based on the current COVID-19 conditions in the community, we expect our waiver to be approved to remain with virtual learning up until our Winter break. As was discussed in last night's School Board meeting, our hope at DMPS is to be able to transition back to in-person learning with the start of the new year. 

No one wants to see our students back in school more than educators, but that desire also needs to be balanced with the pandemic situation. If there is a mandate to return to 100% in-person learning, then educators should be in line right behind health care workers in any COVID-19 vaccination plans."

Local 5 plans to do a more in-depth report Thursday for schools and COVID-19. 

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