DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- The Iowa Public Health Association is condemning Governor Kim Reynolds' rolling back of COVID-19 restrictions, calling it "actively detrimental" to the pursuit of the end of the pandemic.
"We believe this decision was not rooted in evidence or expert opinion and did not come as a recommendation from your own public health agency," IPHA Board President Jeremy Whitaker and Executive Director Lina Tucker Reinders said in an open letter to the governor. They say the downward trend in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths is cause for cautious optimism, adding the spread of variant strains and the limited vaccine supply underscore that now is not the time to abandon masks, social distancing or gathering limits.
They say it's because of these measures that Iowa has seen improved positivity rates, but it shouldn't be construed the spread is no longer considerable or the risk of severe illness is diminished. The IPHA says they're concerned the downward trends will reverse if mitigation efforts are abandoned.
"The mandate that was in place until last Sunday reinforced the correct message that masks and social distancing are critical in reducing the spread of COVID. The new message from you is that it is no longer necessary to be conscientious in protecting ourselves and our communities," the letter reads.
During a news conference on Wednesday, Governor Reynolds defended her decision to lift COVID-19 restrictions, saying she "trusts Iowans to do the right thing."
"If we expect Iowans to do the right thing, we need that reinforced by our leaders in word and action," The IPHA says.
"We all want to celebrate the end of the pandemic as soon as possible. But we are not there yet. Lifting the mask, social distancing, and gathering restrictions may obstruct our road to a healthy Iowa and robust economic and social recovery. Please help us help Iowans," the letter concludes.
The full letter can be found here: