'Not on My Watch': Iowa Governor Says No New COVID Mandates

Amid rumors and speculation that COVID-19 restrictions may be re-imposed, one governor said that there will be no new COVID-19 restrictions in her state.
'Not on My Watch': Iowa Governor Says No New COVID Mandates
People, some still wearing masks, ride a subway in Brooklyn in New York City, on May 11, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, in response to speculation about a potential return of COVID-19-related lockdowns, mask mandates, and other restrictions across the United States amid a recent rise in cases and hospitalizations, said there will be no new COVID-19 restrictions in her state.

“Since news broke of COVID-19 restrictions being re-instated at some colleges and businesses across the U.S., concerned Iowans have been calling my office asking whether the same could happen here," Mrs. Reynolds, a Republican, said in an Aug. 30 statement. "My answer—not on my watch.

"In Iowa, government respects the people it serves and fights to protect their rights. I rejected the mandates and lockdowns of 2020, and my position has not changed.”

Several hospitals around the United States have announced a return of mask mandates, although some only apply to staff members, while several offices and colleges have done the same in recent days. Mask orders and other COVID-19-related restrictions can still be issued by local governments, school districts, or businesses.

"As far as I know, there has been no governmental restrictions or lockdowns of any kind," said Iowa Public Health Association Executive Director Lina Tucker Reinders, according to local media. "There's been no discussion of that.

"We have seen some organizations, such as hospitals and schools, in a few locations around the country who have made local decisions based on their local situation. But I'd like to stress that those are local decisions by local organizations based on their local situation."

According to data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 hospital admissions rose for a sixth consecutive week, for the week ending Aug. 19. However, officials and doctors have said that the increase is relatively small compared to previous rises in cases since 2020.

“An upswing is not a surge; it’s not even a wave,” Dr. Shira Doron, chief infection control officer for Tufts Medicine, told ABC News in August. “What we’re seeing is a very gradual and small upward trajectory of cases and hospitalizations, without deaths really going along, which is great news.”

On Aug. 30, the CDC said COVID-19 hospital admission levels “are currently low for more than 96 percent” of the United States, but the agency recommends that transportation workers, travelers, passengers, and others get the COVID-19 vaccine “before they travel.”

“Anyone may choose to wear a mask in crowded or poorly ventilated indoor areas, including on public transportation and in transportation hubs at any time,” the CDC spokesperson said in response to an Epoch Times' question about whether the agency would reinstate a mask mandate.

CDC guidance currently doesn't recommend or require masks. Meanwhile, a CDC spokesperson told NBC News that there have been no discussions about bringing back mandates.

 Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at a campaign event for Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) at Dahl Auto Museum as part of Ernst's RV tour of Iowa, in Davenport on Oct. 31, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at a campaign event for Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) at Dahl Auto Museum as part of Ernst's RV tour of Iowa, in Davenport on Oct. 31, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)


Over the past two weeks, a handful of hospitals across the United States have started to reinstate mandates, although some have required masks only for staff, nurses, and doctors, while patients and visitors are exempt from the rule. However, a few have made masking mandatory for anyone who goes into the facilities.

In Massachusetts, UMass Memorial Hospital confirmed in a statement on Aug. 24 that it would reimpose masking for staff. Patients and visitors are exempt from the mandate, it stated.

“We have continued to see a dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19-positive employees over the past two weeks, which has led to exposures of both fellow caregivers and patients,” the statement reads. “In response to this, as a protective measure for our staff and patients, effective immediately we are requiring mandatory caregiver masking for all patient encounters in all licensed clinical areas.”

In New York, several upstate hospitals have required masking for anyone who goes into the facilities. They include United Health Services in Binghamton, Auburn Community Hospital in Auburn, and University Hospital in Syracuse.

In California, a Kaiser Permanente facility in Santa Rosa said it would reimpose its mask mandate, but issued a statement several days later saying that only applied to staff.

“Our intent was to communicate that as of Tuesday, we have expanded the masking requirement for our employees and physicians to medical offices and clinic settings; we apologize for any confusion among Press Democrat readers,” the hospital said in an updated statement to local media.

In addition to hospitals, the Lionsgate entertainment studio in Southern California and a college in Atlanta also announced the return of masking. But as with Kaiser Permanente, Lionsgate later said that it won’t require masks and suggested that the company was being pressured by the Los Angeles Department of Health.

“The LA County Department of Public Health notified us yesterday that we could lift the mask requirements, effective immediately, and we have,” the studio told TheWrap. The statement added that “Lionsgate never changed its own mask policy. The LA County Department of Health ordered us to institute the temporary masking requirement after we reported a cluster of COVID cases to them and we have an obligation to comply with their orders.”
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5