(Glenwood) — Despite the relaxing of some state COVID-19 regulations, one KMAland health official says this is no time to unmask.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds late last week announced she’s lifting mask requirements and gathering limits in indoor facilities, and social distancing standards at funerals, weddings and other public events, effective last Sunday. Though the governor’s public health proclamation “strongly encourages” businesses to take steps to ensure the health of workers and employees, Mills County Public Health Administrator Julie Lynes urges residents not to stop COVID mitigation strategies. Lynes made her comments on KMA’s “Morning Line” program Wednesday morning.
“Here in Mills County, I’m really recommending that we follow those CDC guidelines, that we continue to wear a mask whenever you’re outside of your home, or with people that you don’t live with, and all those public health mitigation strategies that we’ve been talking about, because we cannot afford to let our guard down right now.”
With the possibility of new strains of coronavirus entering Iowa, Lynes says continued mask wearing and other safety steps are especially important.
“We did receive notice a couple of weeks ago that the more contagious variance of COVID-19 was in Iowa,” she said. “This variance is not necessarily more deadly, but it has shown to be more contagious. I think right now we are in this period of time where we need to remain very vigilant, and keep all of those good mitigation strategies in place, because we are on the cusp of getting around the corner with COVID-19, but we’re not there yet.”
Lynes says there’s been a mixed response among Mills County residents to face coverings and other strategies.
“Over time, we’ve gotten more and more compliant with just putting that mask on and wearing it, no matter where we go,” said Lynes. “But, there are strong opinions on both camps, and we have seen businesses in our county go both ways. We have businesses who have posted they’re going to keep the restrictions in place. We’ve had businesses announce that they’re going to largely return to business as usual, and leave it largely on customers as to whether they want to wear the mask.”
Governor Reynolds stated on Fox News Monday night that COVID hospitalizations are down, and Iowans are being safe and responsible. Yet, Mills County’s weekly COVID update indicated an uptick in cases, from 16 new cases for the week ending February 2N.D., to 29 for the week ending Tuesday. Lynes says Mills County’s 14-day positivity rate is up, as well.
“Our 14-day positivity rate last week was 8.6%,” she said. “This (Wednesday) morning when I took a look at it, it was 12.6%. So, you can see, we’re headed back up a little bit. I do think it was important to look at these numbers, and see how we’re tracking, and continue to encourage each other to do all that we can to contain the spread.”
Mills County also reported three additional deaths this week, bringing the county’s COVID death toll to 20. You can hear the full interview with Julie Lynes on our “Morning Line” page at kmaland.com.
— to www.kmaland.com