City and county leaders take action on COVID-19 threat

By: - July 6, 2020 2:12 pm

A worker checks a clipboard at a Test Iowa site in Waukee on June 17, 2020. (Photo by Kathie Obradovich/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

With COVID-19 infections trending upward in some areas of Iowa, and the governor touting “positive signs of recovery,” some local officials are taking action.

In Muscatine on Sunday, Mayor Diana Broderson attempted to read a new proclamation requiring the city’s residents to wear face masks or coverings while in public, but was shouted down by protesters who called her a “tyrant” and said the proclamation violates their constitutional rights.

In neighboring Scott County, one supervisor is proposing a similar order that would make masks mandatory in all public areas where social distancing can’t be practiced. That proposal is expected to be discussed at Thursday’s board of supervisors meeting.

Last week, Polk County health officials reported an “alarming” 20% increase in infections in Polk and Dallas County over the previous week and urged area residents to practice social-distancing and follow mitigation guidelines.

Last week, a Washington Post analysis found that only four other counties in America had a higher per capita infection rate than northwestern Iowa’s Buena Vista County, which is home to a Tyson pork processing plant in Storm Lake. As of last week, Buena Vista County had recorded 8,450 infections per 100,000 residents.

In addition, only two other counties in the nation had a high per-capita death rate than Buena Vista County, which has 54 reported deaths due to the virus.

As of Monday, there had been 1,712 positive cases reported in Buena Vista County, and the per capita infection rate had risen to 8,614, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

With a population of just under 20,000, Buena Vista County’s overall infection rate translates to 43% of its residents.

At a press conference last week, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Iowa “continues to show signs of positive recovery.” She acknowledged the recent upswing in the number of new infections, particularly among younger Iowans, but said that was because of increases in only 10 of Iowa’s 99 counties.

The governor noted that many of the new cases involve Iowans who are under the age of 40. Although younger individuals can spread the virus as easily as other older Iowans, they are less likely to require hospitalization once infected.

The increased number of cases has resulted in other states, including New York, to include Iowa in travel advisories. Those advisories require travelers from states with an increased spread of COVID-19 to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.