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'I know Iowans are scared': Reynolds gives a glimpse into what it's like to lead Iowa through the COVID-19 pandemic

Friday, Iowa's COVID-19 death toll rose to three. Gov. Kim Reynolds said she doesn't want to close businesses but feels she has to in order to protect Iowans.
Credit: AP
A man walks past a nearly empty parking lot in front of the Iowa State Capitol building, Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. Iowa leaders last week suspended the current legislative session in response to COVID-19. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Friday, two more Iowans were reported to have died from COVID-19, bringing the state's death toll to three. 

The number of positive cases grew by 56 cases, bringing the state's total positive case count to 235. 

In total, 3,740 Iowans that have been tested for the novel coronavirus had negative tests. 

'When you react and you don't base your decisions on data...that drives fear'

Gov. Kim Reynolds said she doesn't want to close businesses but feels she has to in order to protect Iowans. 

"I have to do what I can to protect the wellbeing of Iowans, especially our most vulnerable," Reynolds said. 

Friday, Reynolds gave the public a glimpse at what it's like to lead the state during a pandemic. 

"I can assure you that the last thing that I want to issue is an order that shuts down a business and puts families and individuals and, as I said, the backbone of our economy at risk," Reynolds said. "I don't take them lightly. This has been some of the hardest decisions that I have had to make as the governor of this great state, but it's also a necessity,"

Protective gear for health care workers is still in short supply. 

"We know that it is so important, as they are standing on the front line, to make sure that we're protecting them as they are taking care of Iowans," Reynolds said. 

That's why Reynolds said she's taken actions to slow the spread of COVID-19, including closing most non-essential businesses until at least April 7, suspended non-essential medical and dental procedures and asked schools to close until April 13. 

Reynolds hasn't issued a full shelter-in-place order for Iowans. She said right now, data she's looking at doesn't show it's needed. 

"You've got Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo (D-New York) that's saying yesterday, 'Maybe I shouldn't have done a shelter-in-place,'" Reynolds said. "So here we go. It is bouncing back and forth and when you react and you don't base your decisions on data, then you are bouncing back and forth and that drives fear. You've also got to look at the mental health of Iowans when we're asking them to not go anywhere so we're trying to be responsible and practical. I want to be consistent on what I'm telling Iowans and the way that you do that is you base it on data."

Iowa health care workers have mixed opinions on shelter-in-place orders

A Des Moines doctor started a petition this week calling on Reynolds to issue a full shelter-in-place order. 

He said he's seen first hand the lack of COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment and critical care capacity in Iowa hospitals. 

"We do not believe that the measures that you have enacted thus far are equivalent to or as effective as a formal shelter-in-place order," the petition reads. "More decisive action must be taken now."

Not all health officials feel this way.

RELATED: COVID-19 live updates: Gov. Reynolds urges Iowans to 'hang in there' following 2 additional deaths

Two Johnson County hospital officials said shelter orders could disrupt the supply chain of vital equipment.

Reynolds' overall message Friday was the same as it's been since this pandemic started: Practice social distancing. 

"I believe Iowans don't need an order to do the right thing," Reynolds said. "I believe they know what they need to do."

Reynolds got choked up when talking about the sacrifices Iowan's have made because of her orders.

"I know Iowans are scared and they're nervous and I appreciate that, but we're going to get through it," Reynolds said. "If you keep doing what we've asked you to do, we will be back to those good days. So hang in there."

RELATED: 'The numbers we're seeing now are unprecedented but not unexpected': Gov. Reynolds says 41,000 Iowans filed for unemployment last week

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends frequent hand washing, avoiding close contact with others and staying home if you are sick as main areas of focus for prevention and containment of COVID-19.

Local 5 is On Your Side to answer your questions on the coronavirus. Text your questions to 515-457-1026message us on Facebook/Twitter or send an email to news@weareiowa.com. 

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