Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on Thursday that the state of emergency status applied to the coronavirus pandemic will be ending in less than two weeks.
Reynolds first issued the public health disaster emergency proclamation shortly following the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, just days after the State Hygienic Laboratory confirmed the virus in the state, and the emergency status has been extended on more than one occasion.
“We cannot continue to suspend duly enacted laws and treat COVID-19 as a public health emergency indefinitely,” Reynolds said in a statement. “After two years, it’s no longer feasible or necessary.”
The disaster proclamation had been an important tool to allocate resources to public health priorities. It also allowed the governor to close schools and businesses as well as require masks in public spaces. Reynolds said that she no longer needs emergency executive powers to be able to manage the pandemic at this stage.
The emergency proclamation is set to expire on February 15. Reynolds’ announcement regarding the end of the emergency status came just two weeks after the infection rate in Iowa reached a high never seen before.
While the average number of confirmed cases reported each day has been on the decline since its peak, that number still remains higher than it has been throughout the pandemic, likely driven by the highly contagious omicron variant.
According to Alex Murphy, Reynolds’ spokesperson, the governor is not concerned that the state’s residents will view the disease as less serious simply due to the fact that she let the emergency status expire because “Iowans have been managing COVID for nearly two years.”
The state is also going to be closing down its Vaccinate Iowa website, one that helps residents find coronavirus vaccine providers, as well as its COVID-19 dashboard that keeps track of infections, hospitalizations, deaths, vaccinations, and long-term care outbreaks.
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: DES MOINES REGISTER