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As Iowa finishes a record-setting month for COVID deaths and cases, a Dallas County bar owner sues to overturn restrictions on businesses


Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

At 10 a.m. on Monday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 2,403 people had died from COVID-19 in the course of the pandemic in Iowa, an increase of 28 deaths since 10 a.m. on Sunday. Among the deceased were a resident of Johnson County and a resident of Linn County.

Monday’s deaths bring the total number of COVID-19 deaths reported by IDPH since Nov. 1 to 687. That is the largest one-month total of deaths from the virus, and almost 27 percent of all the COVID-19 deaths the department has recorded.

IDPH also reported on Monday that another 1,200 Iowans, including 64 residents of Johnson County and 117 residents of Linn County, tested positive during the 24-hour period ending at 10 a.m.

Between 10 a.m. on Nov. 1 and 10 a.m. on Nov. 30, IDPH reported a total of 98,752 new cases of the virus, which is 43 percent of all COVID-19 cases reported in Iowa since the first three cases were confirmed in Johnson County on March 8.

At the county-level, IDPH reported 3,348 new cases in Johnson County during November and 7,744 in Linn County. That is 35 percent and 54 percent, respectively, of all the cases reported by IDPH in those counties during the pandemic.

Experts caution that new case numbers may be lower than they normally would be because Test Iowa sites and the State Hygienic Laboratory were closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The number of outbreaks in Iowa’s long-term care facilities hit another new high with IDPH reporting 156 outbreaks on Monday morning.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients remained high on Monday morning with IDPH reporting 1,162 confirmed cases in Iowa hospitals. That’s less than the record of 1,527 hospitalized COVID-19 patients IDPH reported on Nov. 18, but it’s a 72 percent increase from the 676 hospitalized patients the department reported on Nov. 1.

During her Nov. 16 televised speech on COVID-19, Gov. Kim Reynolds said “the pandemic in Iowa is worse than it ever been” before introducing some new restrictions intended to limit the spread of the virus. Those restrictions included limiting most indoor gatherings to 15 people, and requiring bars to close between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

These restrictions did not go as far as the recommendations contained in the latest report by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which said bars and dine-in service in restaurants should be suspended in an area until there is an average of 50 new cases or fewer per 100,000 residents. Only Lucas County met that standard in the task force’s Nov. 22 report.

But the restrictions Reynolds has imposed go too far for at least one bar owner in Dallas County.

Iowa Capital Dispatch reported on Monday that Amy Culp, owner of Mudders Bar in Minburn, is suing to overturn COVID-19 restrictions the state has placed on businesses.

According to the Dispatch’s Clark Kauffman, “the lawsuit alleges Reynolds’ proclamations violate provisions of the Iowa Constitution, including those that say all men and women have the right of ‘pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.’”

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“The lawsuit also alleges Reynolds’ orders violate Culp’s right to due process and equal protection, and that the state’s failure to provide business owners with notice of the orders is ‘patently unreasonable.’”

The state has not yet responded to the lawsuit.

Culp would not comment on the specifics of her claims in the lawsuit, “saying she was reluctant to speak out ‘with all this bullcrap going on,’” Kauffman reported.


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