DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Plenty of Republican governors initially rejected mask mandates, but few have held to their skepticism amid soaring coronavirus cases with the tenacity of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. Reynolds scoffs at calls for a statewide mask order, calling them “feel-good” actions, and refuses to let city officials enforce local mandates, even as the small, largely rural state maintains one of the highest COVID-19 positivity rates and has topped 1,200 dead. While she implores residents to wear masks while indoors when social distancing isn’t possible, she has said not everyone believes they’re effective and frequently is photographed mingling at crowded events without a mask. “I think the goal is to do what we can to reduce the spread of the virus,” Reynolds said last week. “I believe that is the end goal and that we can get there without a mask mandate. I believe that and that’s what I’m going to consistently do.”
It’s a stand that has frustrated public health experts and exasperated some mayors, but unlike governors in other states, Reynolds has made clear she’s not budging.
Reynolds’ argument against a mandate boils down to three points: a mask requirement can’t be enforced, other factors are to blame for rising virus cases and people should have the freedom to make their own choices.
“I trust Iowans to do the right thing, and I think they are doing the right thing,” she said.
Faced with rising virus cases, other Republican governors took a decidedly different approach.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott had for months said the state couldn’t order people to wear masks, but in July after virus cases and […]