Gov. Kim Reynolds continues to resist mask mandates, says ‘most Iowans’ are wearing them

Gov. Kim Reynolds wore a mask to her news conference on July 30, 2020, before removing it to speak. (Screen shot from livestream of news conference)

Gov. Kim Reynolds continued to decline to require a mask mandate in the state and in Iowa schools and said she believes Iowans are practicing “personal responsibility.”

During her press conference on Thursday, Reynolds encouraged Iowans to continue practicing COVID-19 mitigation measures, including washing hands, social distancing and wearing a mask.

But she declined to require them in Iowa schools and she has said local governments can’t enforce their own mandates without her permission, which she has not granted.

She said she believes “most Iowans” are wearing masks. A recent poll of Iowans commissioned by the Business Record showed 79% of Iowans reported they wear masks when out in public. The survey also showed a majority of Iowans, 72%, believe everyone should wear masks when in public and that a majority would feel better about returning to work if their employer imposed a mask mandate for employees and office visitors.

Reynolds said some states that are requiring masks are not enforcing them. She cited her own ordinance that requires people in social gatherings of 10 or more to social distance from each other.

She pointed to young adults as one of the reasons COVID-19 cases are rising. Iowans between 18 to 40 make up 48% of positive COVID-19 tests, according to the state’s site.

“It’s great that you’re getting together with your friends … and you’re partying and you’re having fun, but do it responsibly,” Reynolds said. “We know by the data where the positive numbers are coming from.”

Reynolds noted that the state is stepping up enforcement of social-distancing measures in bars and restaurants and indicated she’s willing to “do more” if needed.

“And so we need them to know that we’ve we take this seriously and we know where the increased positivity is coming from,” Reynolds said.

When asked whether she’s being contradictory by not requiring masks even though she says they’re helpful in slowing the spread, Reynolds said some people “will tell you just the opposite,” regarding the effectiveness of wearing masks.

“There’s not a silver bullet. There’s not a single answer,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said the state will continue examining their COVID-19 data and determine whether any additional mandates are needed.

Linh Ta
Reporter Linh Ta comes to Iowa Capital Dispatch from the Des Moines Register, where she covered trending news, public safety and the suburbs. Most recently, she has covered retail business and followed both national and local trends to provide insight about the issues that matter the most to Iowans. Beyond traditional journalism, Ta has worked as a speech coach with the Des Moines Storytellers Project with the goal of sharing the diverse perspectives of Iowans from all walks of life. She is the 2019 winner of the Young Iowa Journalist Award and the winner of an Iowa Broadcast News Award. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @linhmaita.