Governor Kim Reynolds on Tuesday (7/27) rejected new federal government recommendations about wearing masks to help slow the rapid spread of a coronavirus variant in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that people in areas with high and substantial virus transmission should wear masks in public indoor settings, including schools, to help prevent the spread.
The CDC said research shows that even vaccinated people can be infected with the delta variant and although they may not get seriously ill they can spread COVID-19 to others. The new variant “is more than two times as transmissible as the original strains circulating at the start of the pandemic,” the CDC said.
Soon after the CDC revised its recommendation, Reynolds issued a statement criticizing the move.
“The Biden Administration’s new COVID-19 guidance telling fully vaccinated Iowans to now wear masks is not only counterproductive to our vaccination efforts, but also not grounded in reality or common sense,” said Reynolds, a Republican.
Reynolds did not explain how asking people to wear a mask discourages vaccination. She added that she was concerned the federal guidance could result in mask mandates for schools.
Reynolds signed a law in May that prohibits local officials from requiring masks to be worn in schools or businesses.
“As I have throughout this pandemic, I trust Iowans to do the right thing,” she said.
Iowa ranks 21st in the nation when it comes to vaccinations, with 49.4% of the population, or 1.56 million people, fully vaccinated. Like many states, vaccination interest has stagnated in recent weeks.
Iowa’s seven-day moving average of daily cases was 241 on Monday, the highest level since May 14.
There have been 6,170 deaths caused by COVID-19 in Iowa.