Lee County sees 20th confirmed COVID-19 case with 16 listed as recovered.
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
JOHNSTON – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds paved the way for the summer to take off in Iowa with a wide array of additional openings around the state with the Memorial Day holiday weekend just two days away.
At Wednesday’s daily press conference, Reynolds announced that she is reopening all school-sponsored activities, including learning and summer sports, effective June 1. Announcements from the Iowa High School Athletic Association and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union didn’t have immediate reactions on their websites.
Other openings include movie theaters at 50% capacity with health and safety measures in place including social distancing and no self-service food or beverages. Museums, aquariums and zoos are fully opened with reasonable measures in place and swimming pools are open for lap swimming and lessons only.
Wedding reception venues are also allowed to reopen under the guidance and requirements applicable to restaurants, and auction services are allowed with no more than 25 people present in person while maintaining six feet distance between each person.
Reynolds also opened state bars with a 50% capacity effective Thursday May, 28 with guidance similar to the state’s reopening of restaurants earlier this month.
State campgrounds were reopened under limitations of six people per campsite with no visitors, as well as cabin rental for only the capacity of the cabin and no visitors allowed. Public restrooms in state parks will also be open.
“Memorial Day is the official start of summer. Iowans look forward to camping, fishing, and other activities in our state parks. It’s important Iowans get back to spending the summer in the great outdoors,” Reynolds said.
With the state still seeing more than 12 deaths per day from the COVID-19 illness, Reynolds said the virus isn’t going anywhere and Iowans need to start balancing normalcy with prevention.
“We have to move forward and recognize the fact it’s in our communities and navigate that until, or if, a vaccine is discovered,” she said. “Iowans realize that and we’re being responsible with that. I don’t believe it has to be an either/or.”
She said bars were one of the last to be reopened because the consumption of alcohol could reduce prevention, but she said the state has worked with business owners to make sure they understand the guidance from the Iowa Dept. of Public Health.
“We’re going to move through this in a responsible manner and monitor data to make sure we don’t see an uptick in virus activity as we do on a daily basis,” Reynolds said.
State casinos and amusement parks were left out of the governor’s new ordinance, however Reynolds said conversations are taking place between those organizations and the state to find guidelines to reopen.
Fort Madison YMCA director Ryan Wilson said he wasn’t ready to make any commitments on pool usage. The YMCA not only has the facility pool, but also sets programming for the Fort Madison City Pool.
“Swim lessons initially looks like something we could accommodate and provide, but doing it in the right manner. On the other hand is it cost prohibitive only for swim lessons. Those are things we have to work through,” Wilson said.
He said YMCA officials across the state are lumping YMCA pools and outdoor pools together under the Governor’s orders.
“That’s how we’ve been over the past weeks – lumping all pools together. If that continues to be the case we would look at opening the pool assuming we could staff it, and then take reservations for lap swimming, while trying to schedule that with swim lessons,” he said.
“But I’m not making any decision today until we get with the Y directors around the proclamation.”
Lee County Health Department reported it’s 20th confirmed case of the virus this week.. They are also showing 16 cases listed as recovered in the county, leaving four people battling the disease in the county.
Reynolds said the state has tested more than 60,000 Iowans since the start of May. The information comes on the heels of a request from Iowa’s Democrats in the U.S. House to explain the progress of Test Iowa and the state’s $26 million investment.