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Iowa ignores White House task force advice on virus response

Associated Press

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FILE - Vice President Mike Pence with President Donald Trump and White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, speaks during a coronavirus briefing in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A White House coronavirus task force has issued new recommendations for Iowa to mandate face masks and to close bars in the state’s largest cities to try to slow the spread of COVID-19. So far, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds hasn’t acted on those recommendations.

The new recommendations were included in an Aug. 9 report from the task force, headed by Dr. Deborah Birx, the Des Moines Register reported. Birx discussed those recommendations last week in a meeting with Iowa’s state epidemiologist, Dr. Caitlin Pedati.

Birx suggested Iowa consider measures other states have taken, including bar restrictions and mandating face masks in public, Pedati said.

The report said masks should be required, bars should be closed, gyms should be closed or limited to 25% of capacity, and social gatherings should be limited to 25 or fewer people in 17 metro areas and 48 counties. Those areas included the Des Moines metropolitan area, Council Bluffs, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Dubuque, Iowa City, Ames and the Quad Cities.

Reynolds has rejected numerous calls for a mask requirement, including from physicians’ groups and those treating COVID-19 patients at Des Moines’ intensive care units.

Reynolds’ office did not respond Thursday to the Register’s request for comment on the new task force recommendations.

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