BREAKING: Iowa Covid Numbers Soaring Again, Will There Be A New School Mask Mandate?
BREAKING NEWS: Iowa covid-19 numbers continue to soar, with the Iowa Department of Public Health reporting 9,132 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, an average of 1,304 per day, prompting some to call for new mask mandates in schools and statewide.
There were 102 deaths reported last week as well, bringing the state’s total to 7,268 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
In addition, hospitalizations due to covid also continued to increase, rising to 544, including 123 patients in intensive care and 57 on ventilators.
Children under 18 make up over 20 percent of the positive case results of the past week, reflecting a growing trend in Iowa of some officials calling for a return to a statewide mask mandate, particularly in schools. However, many Iowans and government officials, as well as many school districts, are very much against any mask mandates returning.
A case going through federal court now showcases the statewide battle, as last week, lawyers from both sides of the mask issue presented their cases to federal judges over an Iowa law banning mask mandates in schools, championed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Gov. Reynolds signed the bill into law in May, and was promptly sued by the ACLU, beginning a battle that has been running since then, over whether or not state schools and other institutions can make their own decisions regarding mask usage and other covid mitigations, regardless of federal and state laws. The state appealed the temporary injunction of Iowa’s mask mandate ban, and Gov. Reynolds filed an appeal. Federal judges are still considering the case.
Numbers from the Iowa Department of Public Health show a negative trend for the state, demonstrating that it’s headed to higher numbers of COVID-19 positivity as the winter months begin, based upon numbers from last fall and winter.
In November and December 2020, Iowa had a massive surge in covid cases, causing Gov. Kim Reynolds to shut down the state and implement mask mandates. However, she rescinded those mandates in spring of 2021, after covid numbers declined statewide.
The current legal battle over schools’ mask mandates echos other legal battles around Gov. Reynolds’ decisions surrounding covid restrictions.
Reynolds signed the bill that would allow employees to escape employer covid mandates, including vaccination mandates, and allow greater use of medical and religious exemptions for people to refuse covid restrictions. The governor’s law is in defiance of some federal mitigations and contrary to laws in other states, such as Illinois, that say employers have the right to fire employees who are not compliant to their regulations regarding covid.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law an amendment to the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act allowing employers to penalize employees if they refuse to follow workplace rules about covid, including mandatory vaccinations, testing, and other mandates.
The Health Care Right of Conscience Act amendment bans employees from using their moral beliefs as a reason to refuse to comply with a workplace’s covid mandates, which could include mandatory vaccinations.
The law doesn’t take effect until June 1, 2022. However, the law could go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, if there is a new vote that garners greater support within the Illinois House and Senate. Pritzker would be expected to sign that into law should the vote take place to push up the mandate.
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