DES MOINES — With COVID-19 diagnoses rising in Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds has ordered another round of closures for Iowa businesses.

Thursday’s proclamation bars elective, non-essential surgery and dental procedures. The state’s bookstores, clothing and shoe stores were all ordered to shut down. The order also applies to stores specializing in jewelry, luggage, cosmetics and beauty supplies, furniture stores, florists and home furnishings.

The order was to go into effect at 10 p.m. Thursday.

Previously closed businesses, which include restaurants and bars, were ordered closed for an additional week. That means the earliest they can reopen is April 7.

The orders also included directions for the state’s insurance companies to reimburse health care providers “for telehealth visits at the same rate as in-person visits.” That could reduce the number of people visiting doctor’s offices, further limiting the chance for the virus to spread.

The recommendation that Iowa schools remain closed until April 13 remains unchanged. While never formally ordered to close, Iowa schools did so at the governor’s advice. On Wednesday, Ottumwa schools announced they planned to reopen on that date, though the notice to parents and students also said that was subject to change depending on the situation.

“These additional steps, along with those we’ve already taken, are equivalent to the goals of many of the shelter in place orders,” Reynolds said. Several states have directed people who do not work in essential jobs to stay home except for trips to buy essentials.

On Thursday, Iowa saw the number of positive COVID-19 cases rise to 179, a rise of 34 cases from the previous day. That included the first cases in Appanoose and Mahaska counties, though local officials had announced the latter on Wednesday.

Officials continue to ask people to stay out of crowds, wash their hands frequently with soap and warm water, and to stay home if they feel sick.

While most cases are mild, more than 30 Iowans are hospitalized due to complications and 15 more have been treated and released. The state has recorded one death.

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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