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Iowa leaders detail guidelines for reopening businesses

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's COVID-19 deaths and new cases at the beginning of...
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's COVID-19 deaths and new cases at the beginning of her news conference Tuesday morning, April 28, 2020. (WOWT)(WOWT)
Published: Apr. 28, 2020 at 10:06 AM CDT
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Before outlining how Iowa businesses will be allowed to reopen, Gov. Kim Reynolds began her daily briefing Tuesday reporting nine deaths and 508 more confirmed cases across the state, and noted that seven new COVID-19 outbreaks had been identified at long-term care facilities.

The deceased are all older to elderly adults -- seven of whom were in long-term care facilities.

The facilities with new outbreaks are:

  • Granger Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Granger
  • Dubuque Speciality Care in Dubuque, Park Centre in Newton
  • Accura HealthCare in Newton, Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown
  • Fleur Heights Center for Wellness and Rehab in Des Moines
  • University Park Nursing and Rehab in Des Moines

The state now has a total of 6,376 cases. About 98 percent of the new cases originate from counties with continued restrictions in place.

Tuesday brought 1,165 negative test results for a total of 33,447 negative tests in the state. Per capita, one in 79 Iowans have been tested.

The state's Hygenic lab has a testing capacity of 5,226 while 2,169 Iowans diagnosed with COVID-19 have recovered.

"From the start, we have taken significant and proactive mitigation measures to protect long-term care facilities and our most vulnerable Iowans who live there," Reynolds said. "Because we know COVID-19 spreads quickly in congregant settings."

Long-term care strike teams are being deployed by the state to increase testing and safety measures at such facilities, she added.

An emphasis on testing

As the state begins to reopen businesses, the need for testing and contact tracing increases. A second testing site for TestIowa.com will open April 29 in Waterloo at Crossroads Mall.

Testing, for now, is prioritized for essential workers and those who currently experience symptoms of the coronavirus, had contact with someone with the virus, or have been in an area where the virus is widespread.

Testing is available in Des Moines as more sites open up soon, Reynolds said.

Iowa's reopening guidelines

Iowa Department of Public Health Deputy Director Sarah Reisetter spoke on the guidelines being provided by the state to restaurants to safeguard diners and staff against the spread of the disease.

Beginning Friday, restaurants must limit service to half of their rated capacity and limit groups to six people while following social distancing measures.

Self-service by customers for beverages or food is prohibited. This includes buffets and salad bars.

Other measures include an "enhanced cleaning schedule and eliminating seating at bars," Reisetter said.

Restaurants are encouraged to use a reservation-only system for diners. Customers can be screened on arrival by asking if they have been diagnosed with or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Employees who experience symptoms should immediately be excluded from the workplace and should be screened prior to work. They should also wear masks while dealing with customers.

At farmers' markets, only farm products and food can be sold. No entertainment, social activities or common seating are allowed. Six feet distancing is required between vendors along with other social distancing measures.

Any other businesses will have guidance to keep hands washed, marking six-foot intervals within the business and other measures.

When asked how the state will enforce the guidelines and recommendations for businesses, Reynolds said the Department of Inspections will make sure it is done correctly but added numerous business owners she has spoken with or who have been consulted are eager to follow the rules and reopen.

An update on testing and contact tracing, including future testing sites, will be provided tomorrow, Reynolds said.

Religous services update

Asked about religious services allowed to resume, Reynolds clarified she never shut them down and encouraged religious leaders to operate online if possible and practice social distancing measures among other guidelines.

"We know social distancing works, we should incorporate that into open up the services," Reynolds said.

Pass the Pork program coming soon

Reynolds reminded citizens about the "Pass the Pork" program, which connects Iowa pig farmers to food insecure Iowans beginning May 1.

For more information and how to get involved, go to