The Iowa Board of Medicine voted on Friday to recommend that Gov. Kim Reynolds issue a statewide shelter-in-place order to limit the spread of COVID-19. The vote by the board, which issues licenses to physicians and regulates the practice of medicine in Iowa, was unanimous.
“When you look at states that have implemented a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home mandate, they have been shown to do better,” Board member Dr. Nikhil Wagle of Bettendorf told the Iowa Capital Dispatch. “California did it several weeks in advance and if you look at their population relative to New York City, they can be somewhat similar but there are a lot less cases, and a lot less deaths, in the state of California versus New York City. Look at Ohio, which also did it pretty early. They also seem to be in a better position than states like Michigan and Louisiana.”
The Iowa Medical Society, the professional organization for the state’s doctors, has already sent the governor a letter on behalf of its 6,800 members, asking her to order shelter-in-place for at least two weeks.
Gov. Reynolds has consistently defended not issuing such an order, claiming that the metrics she is relying on to gauge the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in Iowa do not indicate it is necessary.
But according to Eli Perencevich, a professor of Internal Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and a member of the Iowa Infection Prevention Research Group, the metrics the governor is relying on measure the crisis as it’s already occurring, instead of indicating how to slow the pandemic.
“Not one of the criteria has anything to do with how the virus spreads,” Perencevich told the Press-Citizen. “The decision should be about estimating how many people are infected.”
The Trump administration has not asked states to issue shelter-in-place orders, but the administration’s top expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, briefly addressed the topic during a CNN town hall meeting on Thursday.
“I don’t understand why that’s not happening,” Fauci said regarding the failure of a few governors to order shelter-in-place. He believes mandatory shelter-in-place will effectively limit the spread of the virus.
Iowa is one of only five states to not have either a full statewide shelter-in-place order or ones applying to parts of the state. The other states that have not issued any shelter-in-place orders are Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.