Gov. Kim Reynolds announced an extension of the state of public health emergency on Thursday that was initially issued March 17 by one additional week, and she ordered more non-essential retail categories to close.
The orders are meant to help mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Earlier in the day, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced an additional 34 positive diagnoses of the virus in Iowa, bringing the total to 179, though 2,975 tests have proven negative.
Meanwhile, 32 Iowans are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, with 15 having been discharged and recovering. Just one person, an older adult (age 61-80) in Dubuque County, has died due to the disease. There has yet to be a confirmed case in Bremer County.
The order that shut down bars, fitness and recreational centers, theaters, senior centers, adult day cares and casinos, limited restaurants to carry-out, drive-thru and delivery only, and barred gatherings of more than 10 people has been extended to April 7. Reynolds added salons, medical spas, barbershops, tattoo shops, tanning facilities, massage therapy establishments and swimming pools.
On Thursday, the governor ordered the closure of several non-essential retail outlets, which includes clothing, shoe, book, jewelry, luggage, cosmetic, beauty supply, perfume, furniture and home furnishing stores, and florists. Also, all non-essential medical and dental procedures are to be suspended through the new end date.
"The more we can do to mitigate the spread of this virus, the sooner we can get over it," Reynolds said in her daily press briefing Thursday at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston.
Additionally, she announced that there have been 40,952 unemployment claims made in Iowa in the last week.
"This is unprecedented, but it was not unexpected," Reynolds said. "This is not a typical downturn in the economy."
Beth Townsend, with Iowa Workforce Development, said the state has paid $10.6 million in unemployment claims last week. She mentioned that the IWD offices are taking thousands of calls per day with 250 people answering the phones.
She added that the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion economic rescue bill passed late Wednesday by the U.S. Senate and soon will be taken up by the House of Representatives, will add $600 weekly to unemployment payments and extend Iowa's unemployment period by 13 weeks to 39 weeks.
"We are here to help," Townsend said. "It may take longer for us to do so."