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'Sheltering in place for 2 or 3 weeks won't cause the virus to go away': State officials defend decision to not order Iowans to stay home

As of Tuesday, Iowa's governor has not issued a shelter-in-place order. She said she relies on data from the state when implementing mitigation strategies.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Gov. Kim Reynolds and her administration defended their reasons for not issuing a shelter-in-place order for Iowans. 

So far, 23 states have ordered non-essential businesses to close. 

Sarah Reisetter, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, said Iowa hasn't taken that step because right now, data isn't showing them it's needed. 

"We do not believe that it is a mitigation measure that is required in Iowa at this time," Reisetter said. "It's important to understand that sheltering in place for two or three weeks won't cause the virus to go away. That's because this virus is circulating around the world and can be reintroduced in several places."

Reynolds said her administration analyzes coronavirus trends in the state daily. They aren't just looking at Iowa as a whole; they are looking at regions throughout the state and will make recommendations based on what particular areas are dealing with. 

"As long as we are continuing to work and base these decisions off of data that we have, taking into context what other states are doing, then I hope that's how we can strategically make decisions about," Reynolds said.

With trends changing quickly, that means recommendations can change rapidly. 

There could be additional orders added or lifted depending on what's happening in Iowa communities.

"Think of this as a dial and not a switch," Reisetter explained, "We recommend turning the dial up and down over time. That's how we will slow the spread of the virus in our state."

Medical equipment still in short supply

Tuesday, Reynolds continued to stress the importance of conserving personal protective equipment (PPE). 

That's things like masks, gloves, gowns and coveralls used to protect healthcare workers coming into contact with patients that may have COVID-19. 

"PPE continues to be a number one concern, and it's a concern of governors all across this country," Reynolds said. "That's why we are taking all hands on deck and looking for ways to order not only directly from the providers, but also through FEMA." 

Reynolds said they're also talking to businesses all across the state of Iowa.

RELATED: University of Iowa Health Care asking for new, used face mask donations for hospital staff

The main message from the governor is consistent: All Iowans need to do their part to flatten the curve and keep each other safe. 

RELATED: COVID-19 live updates: Iowa National Guard delivers medical equipment to 5 counties

Reynolds said if you don't need to leave your house, stay home. If you are sick, call before getting seen at a clinic or hospital. 

The goal right now is to prevent hospitals from being inundated with COVID-19 cases so resources can be replenished. 

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.