As Covid-19 cases fall and vaccines roll out across the country, a handful of governors have dropped statewide mask mandates, raising tensions with some city leaders who are keeping their own restrictions in place to fight new strains of the coronavirus.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds this month dropped the state’s mask mandate and restrictions on social gatherings, after case counts and hospitalizations had fallen by around 80% since the autumn peak and vaccination programs in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities got under way.
“We need to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to protect Iowans, especially our most vulnerable,” the Republican governor said in an interview. “But I also have to balance economies that support the individuals that are trying to sustain a business or sustain their livelihood.”
Des Moines, Dubuque, Iowa City and several other cities have no plans to follow the governor’s lead on dropping the face-covering mandate, as several new strains of Covid-19 have arrived in the state and the vaccine rollout takes longer than expected.
“I think now is the time to be more diligent than ever,” said Frank Cownie, Democratic mayor of Des Moines, which put its own mask mandate in place in August, several months before the state.