- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2022

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday she will end emergency proclamations tied to the coronavirus as states and countries around the world begin to treat COVID-19 as something that must be managed like influenza or other diseases and not as a public health crisis.

The Republican is also pulling down a COVID-19 website that displays cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Iowa, though the stats will remain available on other state websites.

Ms. Reynolds issued public health proclamations in March 2020 to limit gatherings, close businesses or restrict nonessential surgeries. Nearly two years later, remaining emergency provisions involve “lingering workforce issues” that can be addressed through nonemergency measures.

She will let those provisions expire on Feb. 15.

“We cannot continue to suspend duly enacted laws and treat COVID-19 as a public health emergency indefinitely,” Ms. Reynolds said. “After two years, it’s no longer feasible or necessary. The flu and other infectious illnesses are part of our everyday lives, and coronavirus can be managed similarly.”

Her move is part of a broader push to drop societal limits and accept COVID-19 as one of a number of dangers to public health.

Scandinavian countries, for instance, are leading the charge in Europe by dropping all mask mandates and business restrictions.

Iowa officials said they will still gather statistics on COVID-19 and post them online but two dedicated websites, coronavirus.iowa.gov and vaccinateiowa.gov, will be decommissioned on Feb. 16.

“While our COVID-19 reporting will look different, Iowans should rest assured that the state health department will continue to review and analyze COVID-19 and other public health data daily, just as we always have,” said Kelly Garcia, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. “The new format will include data points that Iowans are used to seeing, but moves us closer to existing reporting standards for other respiratory viruses. This new phase also assures that our teams, who have been deeply committed to the COVID-19 response, can return to their pre-pandemic responsibilities, and refocus on areas where the pandemic has taken a hard toll.”

About 60.5% of Iowans are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the latest data, slightly below the national average of 64%.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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