Des Moines, Cedar Rapids modify mask mandates in response to CDC announcement

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Des Moines and Cedar Rapids modified their mask mandates May 14 in response to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement May 13.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie rescinded the city’s mask requirement for all residents, effective immediately. He had implemented the mask requirement for Des Moines in August 2020.

“I want to thank our residents, business owners and visitors for understanding the importance of this authorization and for adhering to the rules,” Cownie said in a news release. “Your diligence helped keep us safe and healthy. It has been a long and challenging road for us these past 14 months but now we are nearing the corner. That is why we will follow the recommendations of the CDC and immediately loosen the restrictions in Des Moines.”

Cownie said those “still needing vaccinations are strongly encouraged but not required” to wear masks.

“I also urge those needing vaccinations to get their shots by the end of June so that we can avoid potential COVID outbreaks in Des Moines over the Fourth of July weekend,” he said.

Cedar Rapids residents and visitors who are fully vaccinated may discontinue wearing masks and physically distancing in public, with certain exceptions.

“Again, I want to thank all those who have followed the COVID-19 guidelines, including wearing masks all these months, and those who have been vaccinated” Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart said in a news release announcing the change. “This is yet another reason to be vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Those using the Cedar Rapids Public Library and City Cedar Rapids Transit still need to use masks, the release said. Fully vaccinated persons “should continue” to wear masks in homeless shelters and correctional facilities, the mayor’s proclamation noted.

Private businesses retain their ability to require masks.

“Patrons should abide by those requirements, as local businesses continue to work to keep their customers and employees safe and healthy,” the release said.

Iowa City announced May 14 in a news release that it is currently working with public health officials and plans to release updated guidance by May 19. Mayor Bruce Teague’s mask mandate, which he issued Jan. 11, currently expires May 31.

On Thursday, the CDC released updated guidance recommending “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

Wearing masks is required on planes, buses, trains, and other public transportation.

The CDC also recently announced its endorsement of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for 12-year-old to 15-year-old adolescents, and the Iowa Department of Public Health “urges” Iowa families to vaccinate children in the age group, according to a May 13 news release. The department estimates that there are approximately 167,000 Iowans in this age group.

“We want to emphasize the importance of this vaccine as a tool to keep Iowa kids healthy and encourage families to have a conversation with their children and healthcare provider,” IDPH Medical Director & State Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati said in the release. “Making a plan to get the COVID vaccine as soon as possible helps to ensure that Iowa kids in this age group can safely enjoy their normal summer activities and there’s no interference with other immunizations they may be scheduled to receive.”

As of 2:30 p.m. May 14, 1,241,273 Iowans have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series, and 186,573 Iowans have received 1 dose of a 2-dose vaccine series, according to Iowa’s COVID-19 data tracking. Iowa’s population is estimated to be 3,190,369, according to the 2020 U.S. Census.

Gov. Kim Reynolds dropped the state’s mask mandate Feb. 7 when she declined to include it in a Feb. 5 public health proclamation.

How Iowans Can Get Their Shot:

  • Call 211 or (800) 244-743 to get assistance from a vaccine navigator
  • Contact your health care provider, local public health department or a local pharmacy.
  • Use VaccinateIowa.gov or www.vaccines.gov to find a provider.





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