Opinion: Lifting Iowa's COVID-19 mandate was not that great of an idea
By Victoria Neece
At the beginning of February, Gov. Kim Reynolds eliminated the majority of restrictions that were put in place last year to help battle the spread of COVID-19. This included lifting the mask mandate, eliminating social distancing, and taking away the limitations on the max capacity of people in a public setting. Also, schools were ordered to reopen immediately for 100% in-person learning five days a week. Since this decision was made, Iowa skyrocketed with COVID-19 cases and now claims one of the top ten spots for having the most cases in the United States. According to the CDC, as of today, Friday, March 4, 2021, Iowa has 337,686 confirmed cases. What is Iowa doing to lower the number of cases you may ask? Nothing.
The FDA encourages the use of masks when in a public setting to prevent the spread of the virus. If a mask is worn correctly, it contains transmission of the virus. With some civilians choosing to wear masks incorrectly in public or not at all, the spread of COVID-19 is encouraged. There is always a possibility of having COVID-19 and being asymptomatic; therefore it is important to wear a mask.
Along with the lack of a mask mandate, social distancing is no longer required in Iowa. According to the CDC, “COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) for a prolonged period.” The virus can spread through a sneeze or even simply talking to someone. It is possible to spread the virus without even knowing you are sick, so it is always important to social distance. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of the virus may not show up for 14 days. The mix of no masks and social distancing is a guarantee that states case numbers will rise.
With social distancing mandates being lifted, this also meant dropping measures set in place to limit social gatherings. Larger populated areas, such as schools, allow more of a chance for exposure. Even though masks are required in schools, exposure thrives in largely populated environments. With little to no social distancing in hallways and classrooms, a single person comes in contact with dozens of people on a daily basis. With school being a compact environment, it can be a stressful experience when others don't follow COVID-19 precautions. Students shouldn't have to sacrifice their health to get a quality education.
With one million doses of the vaccine delivered to the state of Iowa, only 206,008 people have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Iowa is currently 49th compared to other states that have delivered two doses of the vaccine. Before lifting the mandate, Iowa should have ensured that everyone who wanted the vaccine was able to get it. The safety of Iowans should be the government's main priority. With mandates being lifted at the last minute and the state falling behind in administering vaccinations, the state's future with COVID-19 isn't looking too bright.
Victoria is a sophomore.
This is her first year as a staff writer for