BREAKING: As Iowa continues as a hot spot for covid-19 cases, Governor Kim Reynolds is extending mitigations for “at least another week” on the state.

“We look at it on a daily basis, we review it on a daily basis, we review it on a weekly basis,” Reynolds said in a press conference today. “We still have a long ways to go on our hospitals, but they are seeing some relief. I’ve said all along, we’ll dial up and we’ll dial back as appropriate and so that’s the same thing that we’ve done from the beginning of the pandemic.”

Iowa covid-19 cases and deaths are continuing to more than triple the number in Illinois, despite Illinois’ much larger population.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, there were 27,108 new confirmed and probable cases of covid-19 in Iowa on Dec. 9, with 152 deaths reported.

The numbers for Iowa are on a downward slope, but still dwarf those in the larger neighboring state of Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health  reported 8,256 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois on Dec. 9, including 179 additional deaths.

For perspective, Iowa’s population, according to 2019 count, is 3.155 million, as opposed to the much larger Illinois population of 12.67 million as of 2019.

“We continue to see the same slow, steady downward trend in new cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations that we have since mid-November,” the governor said. “However, it is critical that these trends continue throughout this month and that we continue to reduce the number even further.

Due to the decrease in hospitalizations, Reynolds eased restrictions on elective procedures from 50% to 25%.

On Nov. 17, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds implemented the new rules to mitigate the spread of covid-19 in Iowa. The rules impacted all state bars and gathering places, eliminated all sporting events under high school age, and severely limited the number of people able to gather together.

The rules include:

When in an indoor public space and unable to socially distance, masks are required to be worn by all, and masks will be required to be worn by everyone in state and government buildings throughout Iowa.

Indoor social, community, business and leisure gatherings will be limited to 15 people. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 30. That includes family gatherings, weddings, conventions and other similar activities. It does not restrict workplace gatherings within workplace buildings during business hours (i.e. inside factories, hospitals, etc.)

With the exception of high school, collegiate and professional sports, all organized youth and adult sports activities of any size are suspended. While high school sports and extracurricular activities are not prohibited, spectators at games and events are limited to two people per student and required to wear masks.

Restaurants and bars are required to close at 10 p.m., and cannot host private gatherings of more than 15 people. Masks must be worn by all staff, and customers must wear masks when not seated at tables.

“These measures are targeted toward activities and environments where they have the potential to make significant impact in a relatively short amount of time,” Reynolds said. “This doesn’t mean changes will be easy or popular but they’re necessary if we want to keep businesses open, our kids in school and our healthcare system stable.”

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Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.