Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) announced the closure of bars and nightclubs in six counties on Thursday due to a spike of Chinese coronavirus cases among the young.
Bars, nightclubs, breweries, wineries, and distilleries in six counties — Polk, Linn, Johnson, Story, Dallas, and Black Hawk — will be forced to close beginning Thursday at 5:00 p.m. because of an increase in positivity rates among those ages 19-24.
“They may continue to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption off premises. Restaurants in these six counties are permitted to remain open, but must stop selling and serving alcoholic beverages after 10:00 p.m.,” an announcement of the proclamation states.
While she acknowledged that the younger demographic is less likely to suffer severe impacts of the virus, she said the actions are “increasing the virus activity in the community and it’s spilling over to other segments of the population.” The age group has comprised nearly one-quarter of new positive cases across the state in the last two weeks.
“I don’t make these decisions lightly, and it’s not lost on me that every business forced to close all through their hours and sales, even temporarily, plays a role in the lives of Iowa workers and our small businesses,” Reynolds said, according to the Des Moines Register.
“But these actions are absolutely necessary,” she continued.
The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 1,475 new cases of the virus on Thursday, bringing the total to 59,368 cases and 1,079 related fatalities. According to KCCI, Thursday’s numbers reflected the “largest single-day increase in overall coronavirus cases since the pandemic began”:
IDPH reports seven Iowa counties with a positivity rate greater than 15% over the last 14 days. Plymouth, Howard, Sioux, Johnson, Clinton, Carroll, Marion and Lee counties are above the 15% threshold that triggers considerations for public schools to change to online learning.
Reynolds’ restrictions are set to remain in effect until September 20, although she expressed hope that officials will be able to loosen them “in the near future.”
“But if they simply move large scale parties and other high-risk activity elsewhere, then we’re going to be prepared to do more,” she cautioned.