DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) – The mayor of Des Moines has declared a state of emergency, a move that would prohibit gatherings of more than 250 people on public grounds.
According to the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie signed the proclamation Sunday. This follows Governor Kim Reynolds announcement of the state's first case of “community spread” in the novel coronavirus. “Community spread” means COVID-19 has spread from an unknown source and isn't linked to travel as other cases in the state have been.
State code allows Iowa mayors to “"take command of the police and govern the city by proclamation, upon making a determination that a time of emergency or public danger exist." Cownie is given the same powers as the county sheriff.
The proclamation forces the cancellation of the city's 2020 St. Patrick's Day Parade, which was scheduled for Tuesday in downtown.
It does not bar gatherings on private land, however Cownie urged people to also avoid large gatherings in private for their own safety.
As of Saturday, March 14, there were 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in five counties in Iowa. The only cases reported are in Carroll, Dallas, Harrison, Johnson and Pottawattamie Counties.