Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will require that people wear masks if they join indoor gatherings of 25 or more people as the state sees a continued surge of coronavirus infections that is threatening to overwhelm hospitals.
Reynolds said Tuesday she had signed a proclamation taking effect Wednesday that would require masks for the indoor gatherings and outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people.
The Republican governor didn’t require new restrictions on bars and restaurants, and the new rules don’t apply to school districts.
Asked why she didn’t impose a mask requirement for smaller gatherings, Reynolds said: “It’s a place to start and it’s progress from where we were.”
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 4,441 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours and 27 additional deaths.
Coronavirus cases continued spreading throughout Iowa with most counties reporting high positivity rates, confirmed infections remaining above 4,000 and another 27 people dying of the virus.
Reynolds has announced a media campaign to encourage people to wear masks and take other actions to reduce spread of the virus.
All but nine counties reported a 14-day positivity rate of 15% or more, a rate significantly above the level at which health experts recommend government measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
There were 1,135 people being treated for COVID-19 in Iowa hospitals.