Reynolds says CDC is sending ‘mixed messages’ with new mask guidance

By: - July 28, 2021 1:17 pm

Gov. Kim Reynolds discussed COVID-19 vaccinations on July 28, 2021, after a news conference at the Iowa Department of Public Safety in Des Moines. (Photo by Katie Akin / Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday that new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on mask-wearing is sending “mixed messages” to Iowans. 

The CDC said Tuesday that all people, vaccinated or unvaccinated, should wear masks indoors in areas with “high” or “substantial” rates of transmission of COVID-19. Iowa has a “substantial” rate of transmission.

Reynolds sent out a press release Tuesday evening condemning the new measure, which she said was “not grounded in reality or common sense.” She reiterated at a Wednesday press conference that the CDC was sending “mixed messages” to Iowans.

“They’re telling Americans and Iowans if you get a vaccine, you don’t have to wear a mask, and then two weeks later, they change the message on that,” Reynolds said. “I think it’s contradictory, I think it sets us back in what we’re trying to do: encouraging people to get vaccinated.”

Reynolds said she had not seen what data the CDC used to create the new guidelines. She also said she was unaware of data to prove that, at the height of the pandemic last winter, states with mask mandates fared better than those without. 

“Remember in November and December when we saw the surge, the entire country was red and you couldn’t distinguish between who had a mask mandate and who didn’t,” she said.

Ultimately, Reynolds said, some people have chosen not to be vaccinated, despite the fact that an overwhelming number of COVID hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated.

“They’ve made the calculation on whether to (be vaccinated) or not,” she said. “And so, I don’t feel like we should punish everybody because some have made the decision not to.”

When asked whether the Iowa State Fair, a draw of over a million people from across the state and the Midwest, would be a concern, Reynolds again just urged Iowans to be vaccinated. The vaccine is widely available in Iowa, through pharmacies like Hy-Vee and at events, like the State Fair or the Farmers’ Market

Reynolds says State Board of Health is close to a quorum

Democrats criticized state leadership on Monday after reports that the State Board of Health, an 11-member advisory panel, was unable to hold a July meeting due to a lack of members. Because terms rolled over in June, just four people were serving on the board.

Reynolds told reporters Wednesday that the board was “really close” to quorum — a simple majority of six members. The Board of Health website showed a fifth member started his term on Wednesday. Governor’s spokesperson Pat Garrett said more members would be added this week.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.