The country registered more than 158,000 new cases a day on average, the highest ever pandemic; more than 76,000 people are hospitalized with the virus across the country, much higher than previous peaks; and deaths are on the rise again. President Trump has largely backed the pandemic response to governors, and the states where the virus is emerging at its fastest pace – North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa – are all led by Republicans.
In Iowa, Ms. Reynolds has been under pressure for months – from mayors, doctors, nurses and farmers, who feared that growing cases could disrupt the food supply chain in a country where agriculture and processing meat are the main industries.
Now that the virus is growing in the Midwest, more than 4,100 people are testing an average positive for the virus in Iowa each day, an 86% increase over the past two weeks. Hospitalizations doubled over the same period, and coronavirus patients now make up one in four hospitalizations in the state.
The crisis sparked significantly last week when the Iowa Health Council, whose members Ms. Reynolds appointed, called on her to issue a mandate. The board vote was in itself a sign of how the deterioration of the virus has forced people to change their minds. Board members, most of whom are Republicans and work in the health sector, have discussed coverage of individuals at previous meetings, but have not supported a mandate.
At the last meeting, however, they voted 7 to 2 to encourage the governor to issue the order.
“Circumstances have changed enough in Iowa,” said Chris Achison, vice chairman of the board, who said he could recall only one other case in which members made a recommendation to the governor for more than three years on the board.