Iowa governor tells state to stay home during critical week

Gov. Kim Reynolds is ordering the closure of malls and playgrounds and urging Iowans to stay home during what she called a critical week for containing the coronavirus pandemic.

Reynolds said at a news conference that local police would begin enforcing her order to bar gatherings of 10 people. Violators could be cited for a simple misdemeanor.

The more aggressive moves come after Reynolds faced intense criticism in recent days for refusing to order a statewide stay-at-home order and as the state’s cases continue to grow.

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Reynolds on Monday confirmed two more nursing homes have outbreaks involving at least three residents who have tested positive. She also said that Iowa’s death toll had increased to 25 total, up by three.

Among those dead from COVID-19 is John DeMarco, 73, a longtime physical education teacher and coach at Iowa City Regina, a Catholic high school. The school said that DeMarco, who had been a fixture at Regina since 1981, died on Saturday.

Reynolds said that she was expanding her temporary closure orders to include malls, playgrounds, social clubs, pool halls, movie stories, libraries, museums, zoos, tobacco and vaping stores and campgrounds.

She said many people were still gathering in those places.