Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Iowa, US, to lift some business restrictions in 77 counties starting May 1. Other restrictions in place through May 15.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Dubuque, Iowa
  • Waterloo, Iowa
  • Sioux City, Iowa
  • Burlington, Iowa
  • Mason City, Iowa
  • Ames, Iowa

This alert began 29 Apr 2020 17:37 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 Restrictions
  • Location(s): Iowa (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 15
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Summary
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has issued a proclamation lifting certain business restrictions that had been implemented as part of the state's efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The edict eases restrictions in 77 out of the state's 99 counties starting May 1, while extending other movement and business restrictions through at least May 15,

Under the new directive, nonessential businesses must remain closed through at least May 15 in the following 22 counties: Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Dallas, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fayette, Henry, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Linn, Louisa, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Scott, Tama, Washington, and Woodbury. In the remaining 77 counties, restaurants, fitness centers, retail stores, libraries, and malls may reopen as of 0500 May 1. However, these establishments must limit the number of customers present in their facilities to 50 percent of their maximum capacity. Businesses allowed to reopen must also enhance sanitation, ensure social distancing between customers and employees, and avoid gatherings of 10 or more people. Farmer markets may reopen, and nonessential medical procedures are allowed to resume statewide.

Authorities have also extended the closure of bars, theaters, casinos, social clubs, playgrounds, skate parks, swimming pools, and personal care businesses statewide through at least May 15. Restaurants, retail stores, and bookstores may offer delivery and pickup services. Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and banks, as well as facilities in the transport, security, media, energy and critical manufacturing industries, may continue to operate.

The proclamation encourages all residents to limit the time they spend outside their residences and maintains a ban on gatherings of 10 people or more through May 15. In-person lessons at all schools remain canceled through the end of the academic year.

Significant transport and business disruptions will continue. Authorities will keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing restrictions that remain in force. Officials could amend the orders at short notice, depending on the disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, restrictions may be reimposed or extended further should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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