Iowa bans mask mandates as issue grows more political

College graduate with mask
College graduate with mask

Phil Roeder / Flickr cc

Early this morning Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill that prevents mask mandates in K-12 schools and restricts city and county mandates to public property, according to the Des Moines Register.

"The state of Iowa is putting parents back in control of their child's education and taking greater steps to protect the rights of all Iowans to make their own healthcare decisions," Reynolds said in a statement. "I am proud to be a governor of a state that values personal responsibility and individual liberties. I want to thank the Iowa Legislature for their quick work in bringing this bill to my desk so that it can be signed into law."

Immediately the Des Moines Public School district posted on Twitter that it was disappointed in the bill and still encouraged mask use for unvaccinated students.

"Due to the size of our district, limited space in our buildings, and the number of students still unvaccinated, DMPS continues to strongly encourage masks while inside buildings," the district said.

Across the country the political fervor around mask wearing, or not mask wearing, is once again picking up heat after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week that fully vaccinated Americans needn't wear a mask in most indoor and outdoor public settings.

Now Republican governors, like Reynolds and Greg Abbott of Texas, are not just doing away with mask mandates, but actively banning the creation of such laws.

The tension goes all the way to Washington D.C., where House Democrats yesterday defeated a Republican-led attempt to abolish the chamber's mask requirements for vaccinated members, Politico reports. 

Pfizer, J&J vaccine news

The chief executive of Emergent BioSolutions told Congress yesterday that more than 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured at Emergent's Baltimore plant are now on hold as regulators check them for possible contamination, the New York Times reports.

The plant was shut down last month after contamination spoiled 15 million J&J vaccine doses.

In other vaccine news, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine can now be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures for up to a month, according to NPR.

The guidance also says thawed doses of the vaccine vials can be stored in in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

The CDC COVID Data Tracker shows 349,210,095 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered in the United States, and 277,290,173 have been administered. Currently, 125,453,423 Americans are fully vaccinated.

Also yesterday the FDA warned that COVID-19 antibody tests should not be used to determine immunity or protection against COVID-19 at any time, especially after a person has received a COVID-19 vaccination.

Other US developments

  • Yesterday the United States reported 29,293 new COVID-19 cases and 655 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker. In total, the country has confirmed 33,041,136 COVID-19 cases, including 588,185 deaths.

  • In some states, restaurant visits are up to pre-pandemic levels, the Washington Post reports. Review site Yelp shows restaurant reservations in April were up 46% compared with April 2019.

  • CDC officials told Congress on Wednesday that they are expecting data from trials testing COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women this summer and from trials in children as young as 6 months old by the end of the year, CNBC reported yesterday. 

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