Ottumwa campground

DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered a new round of closures on Monday as part of the state’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

As with the earlier orders, the new closures are in effect through the end of the month. This round includes malls, tobacco and vaping stores, social and fraternal clubs, museums, zoos, outdoor or indoor playgrounds and campgrounds.

The campground order does allow for some exceptions for long-term or permanent tenants. Ottumwa City Attorney Joni Keith said that will allow the caretakers at the campground in Ottumwa Park to remain.

Keith said Monday morning she was reviewing the new orders and the city would comply with Reynolds’ instructions. Keith said there was some question on whether the order closed parks or just the playgrounds in them, and she was working to get clarification.

“We’re just watching everything day by day,” Keith said.

Later Monday the city announced the parks will remain available for uses like walking or fishing, provided people keep their distance from one another. Playgrounds and the city’s skate park are closed.

Like area businesses, the city is weighing which employees are considered essential and who can be asked to stay home, Keith said. It’s a question that often has no clear-cut answer.

Reynolds’ press conference Monday included news of 78 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iowa and three deaths. The list of new cases included one in Wapello County that was announced by local officials on Sunday.

Reynolds acknowledged last week was the hardest yet for Iowa in the pandemic, and said this week likely offers little relief.

“Unfortunately, we expect this week to be equally, if not more difficult,” she said.

More than four out of every 10 cases in Iowa come from one of three counties: Linn, Johnson and Polk counties. Officials have cautioned everyone to assume the virus is circulating in their communities, regardless of whether there have been confirmed cases.

Ten percent of the state’s COVID-19 cases are linked to long-term care facilities, Reynolds said, and almost half of the state’s 25 fatalities are linked to such businesses. Reynolds said there have been three known outbreaks of the virus at Iowa care facilities.

Nationally, there are some signs efforts to enforce social distancing may be slowing the virus’ spread. Federal officials have said they expect several hotspots in the United States to peak this week. Iowa has generally lagged behind the rest of the country on new cases and fatalities, suggesting the peak locally could still be a couple weeks away.

Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter @mwmilner

Matt Milner can be reached at mmilner@ottumwacourier.com and followed on Twitter @mwmilner

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Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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