Gov. Reynolds: Bars in Linn County can reopen on Wednesday, bars in Johnson County will remain closed

Taps at Sanctuary Pub in Iowa City. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Bars in Linn County and three other counties closed by order of Gov. Kim Reynolds on Aug. 27 can reopen at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, according to a new public health proclamation signed by the governor on Tuesday. Limitations on restaurants serving liquor will also be removed.

“Bars, taverns, wineries, breweries, distilleries, [and] night clubs” in Johnson County and Story County will remain closed under the proclamation, which runs until Sept. 20.

Reynolds ordered bars and other establishments that primarily serve alcohol closed after COVID-19 cases spiked in August. In the last two reports on Iowa from the White House Coronavirus Task Force released by Iowa Department of Public Health, Reynolds was advised to close bars in 61 counties where case numbers are increasing to help mitigate the spread of the virus. According to the task force, bars in those counties should not reopen until a county’s 14-day average positivity rate in its COVID-19 tests is 3 percent or lower.

The four counties where bars will reopen on Wednesday — Black Hawk, Dallas, Linn and Polk — all have 14-day average positivity rates above 7 percent, according to IDPH. Linn’s 14-day average positivity rate has increased from 7.3 percent to 8.1 percent over the past week.

The governor did not issue a statement explaining her decision to reopen bars in the four counties, and did not hold her regular Tuesday press conference this week.

The total number of Iowans who have tested positive for COVID-19 surpassed 75,000 on Tuesday, according to IDPH.

At 10 a.m. the department was reporting 75,275 cases of the virus have been confirmed since March 8, an increase of 508 cases since the same time on Monday. Among the newly reported cases were 37 residents of Johnson County and 23 residents of Linn County.

The department also reported another 12 deaths during the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Among the deceased was one resident of Johnson County and one resident of Linn County. The newly reported deaths increase Iowa’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,233, including 27 residents of Johnson County and 101 residents of Linn County.

In a 50-state survey conducted by Northeastern University, Harvard University and Rutgers University, and released on Tuesday, Gov. Reynolds’ COVID-19 response received the lowest approval rating of any governor: Only 26 percent of Iowans approve of Reynolds’ handling of the crisis, according to the poll. Reynolds came in behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (29 percent approval) and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (30 percent approval).

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