YMCA halts youth programming through November; Central Lee District status quo
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – Gov. Kim Reynolds has tightened mitigation efforts for social, recreational, and sports activities in the state as Iowa gets whacked by the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.
Reynolds extended her public health emergency order Tuesday morning during a press conference to limit social gatherings, which includes sports, youth sports, and all social gatherings.
High school sporting events will be limited to two people, or family members, over the age of 2, per athlete or participant. But Reynolds also limited those indoor activities to 25 people total, unless everyone in attendance is wearing a mask. Outdoor activities are limited to 100 people unless everyone in attendance is masked.
Violations are to be met with informal education and information, and then ultimately a misdemeanor citation.
She’s also limited restaurant, bar and other social event facility groupings to eight people unless a family of more than eight is there together, all with social distancing requirements in place between groupings.
Lee County Health Department Administrator Michele Ross said the agency will be promoting the governor’s enhanced measures.
“LCHD challenges all Lee County residents and visitors to be responsible citizens and do your part in limiting the spread of COVID-19 which has affected all of our lives by following these public health measures,” she said.
“LCHD still encourages people to social distance both when indoor and in outdoor settings, and wear a face covering/mask when in public settings outside one’s own household.
Ross said residents still need to be vigilant when out in public, and employers need to review current plans for recommended guidance.
Fort Madison schools announced Monday that they will go to online learning 100% for two weeks starting Wednesday. That decision effectively suspends any sports and extracurricular activities through at least Nov. 24.
Fort Madison YMCA director Ryan Wilson announced Tuesday that all youth activities have been suspended due to the increasing numbers and the Fort Madison School District going to 100% virtual learning.
Those activities include: Mighty Mite Basketball, 1st/2nd Grade Basketball, and YMCA Swim Team.
“We apologize for the inconvenience, but we’re hopeful that in doing this we can help slow the spread and keep everyone safe and healthy,” Wilson said.
Central Lee Superintendent Dr. Andy Crozier said case numbers and absenteeism in the district is very low, and they have a high attendance rate so the district is status quo with their instruction.
“This is very day-by-day for us and these things change rapidly,” Crozier said. “Our next move would be to a hybrid model and then from there we would consider virtual learning.”
Crozier said the district has, however, made the decision to go to virtual classes Monday and Tuesday Nov. 23-24 to give students a full nine days out of the classroom due to the shortened holiday week.
He said it is currently the district’s intention to maintain school-sponsored athletic events as long as data supports that decision.
In the last seven days, the state has seen 21,000 new cases statewide, with a positivity rate of 19%. Reynolds said 1,131 Iowans were hospitalized yesterday.
“This overall increase in patient volume is stressing our health care systems and putting capacity at risk,” Reynolds said.
“This situation has the potential to impact any Iowan who may need care for any reason COVID-19 or other serious medical condition and we don’t want anyone to be turned away from our hospitals.
These trends cannot continue. Iowans need to do everything in their power to help stop the spread now.”
Masks are also now required for employees and customers in salons, barber shops, tanning salons, tatoo parlors, and massage parlors.
In addition to those strategies, Reynolds also called upon all Iowan employers to take another look at what work can be done remotely and implement those plans “to the extent they are possible”.
She said Iowans are experience pandemic fatigue, but said the state will remain open for business.
“Iowa is open for business and we intend to keep it that way. It will take all of us doing everything we can to stop the spread of this virus. If we don’t, we lose the very things we’ve worked so hard to maintain.”