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State board recommends Reynolds issue mask mandate statewide

DES MOINES — The Iowa State Board of Health has voted to recommend that Governor Kim Reynolds issue a statewide mask mandate.

The vote was 7-2 among the board members — all of whom were appointed by Reynolds.

Reynolds has repeatedly said mask mandates are unenforceable, although she did issue an order Tuesday requiring masks at hair salons, barbershops and in certain group settings. Board member Jay Hansen, a Democrat from Mason City, said with Covid cases spiking, a statewide requirement might persuade people who have resisted wearing mask.

“If there is effectiveness or efficacy, then I think we should shame people who don’t wear a mask and that’s the trouble here,” he said. “I think a requirement at the state level would reframe that discussion and simply say: this is the thing to do.”

Board member Patti Brown, a Republican from Waukee, voted against the recommendation.

“I’m not opposed to wearing a mask. I wear a mask everywhere,” Brown said. “I would prefer that everybody else wear a mask, but I also believe that there’s a certain element of, of free choice involved in this.”

On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control issued a memo saying face coverings do protect the person wearing one as well as others around them.

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