BREAKING NEWS: Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds just announced sweeping new rules to mitigate the spread of covid-19 in Iowa taking place at midnight which will impact all state bars and gathering places, eliminate all sporting events under high school age, and severely limit the number of people able to gather together.

In a press conference shortly after 6 p.m. tonight, Reynolds said that starting at midnight tonight, the following mitigation rules will be in effect:

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.”

All the measures will be reassessed in a week and additional measures could be added depending on the rising numbers of cases, Reynolds said.

“No one wants to do this, I don’t want to do this, especially not going into a holiday season,” Reynolds said, ” But it’s important to step up and slow the spread and make sure Iowans can stay safe. This isn’t about mandates, this isn’t about government. If Iowans don’t buy into this, we lose. Businesses will close once again, schools will be forced to go online, hospitals will be overwhelmed and our healthcare system will be in jeopardy. Now is the time to come together for the greater good, not because you’re told to, but because it’s the right thing to do.”

Iowa and the Quad-Cities have been slammed by covid over the past two weeks, with Iowa being listed as one of the worst hot spots for covid in the United States. Iowa’s state positivity rate has gone over 50 percent as of today, hitting 50.7 percent for the time period of Nov. 8-14, according to John’s Hopkins University statistics.

There were 4,337 new, confirmed cases from 10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4 to 10 a.m. last Thursday. Nov. 12, according to the state’s dashboard, which brings the state’s total number of cases to 170,358.

The state’s website says that of the 170,358 people who have tested positive, 105,357 have recovered. This is 1,146 more recoveries than what the state reported Wednesday.

The number of active positive cases in the state is 65,001. The positivity rate from the last 24 hours is 50 percent.

The state is reporting 30 additional deaths within this time frame, leaving the state’s death toll at 1,928.

There were 207 patients hospitalized in Iowa within the last 24 hours and the total number of hospitalizations is 1,208, which is up from 1,190. This sets another record-breaking number of hospitalizations. Of those hospitalizations, 215 are in the ICU and 101 are on ventilators.

In Iowa, there have been 8,562 new tests given, and a total of 1,068,268 people that have been tested for COVID-19.

The Quad-Cities has exploded into the top 10 worst covid outbreak spots in the nation, according to data from the CDC, the New York Times reported. According to the data, the Illinois/Iowa Quad-Cities is now inside the top ten most rapidly spiking hot spots nationwide, roaring from number 13 to number 7 in just two days.

Illinois and Iowa hold 12 of the top 15 spots in the country, with Cedar Rapids holding at number one.

In his media address Friday, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said that the rapidly spiking numbers statewide — with numbers in some regions doubling daily — could lead to another statewide mandatory stay-at-home order similar

The Quad-Cities is now among the top 10 hot spots in the United States for covid-19 spikes. (Graphic from New York Times/CDC data)

to the one imposed in the spring, and that he would make a determination “in the coming days.”

Illinois reported 10,631 new cases of COVID-19 and 72 additional deaths on Sunday. The total number of cases is 573, 616 since the pandemic started and the number of deaths statewide is now 10,742.

“If things don’t take a turn in the coming days we will quickly reach the point when some form of a mandatory stay at home order is all that will be left,” Pritzker said in his media address today. “With every fiber of my being, I do not want us to get there. But right now that seems like where we are heading.”

Area hospitals are finding themselves being pushed beyond typical capacity and staffers and doctors are feeling the stress.

“We set our previous record high in the last ten days and doubled that in the last week,” said Dr. Kurt Andersen, Senior Vice President for Physician Operations and Chief Medical Officer for Genesis. “Where before in the summer we would be looking at maybe five or ten percent of people who came in with symptoms testing positive, now we’re over 30 percent of people who come in with symptoms testing positive.”

For more updates on this story and others, continue to watch QuadCities.com.

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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.