MUSCATINE — The Muscatine County Board of Supervisors learned Monday that any plans to make sheltering in place enforceable by law is beyond the scope of the board.
The discussion came during its weekly new coronavirus update.
During the board’s regular meeting Monday, board members Jeff Sorensen and Doug Holiday attended by phone as part of Muscatine County’s action to social distance to slow the spread of the pandemic. During the meeting, board member Nathan Mather said Muscatine County Public Health asked him if it was feasible for the county to issue a lockdown order.
Across the river, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has mandated people should stay home, except for work at essential businesses, grocery shopping and exercise. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, however, has closed schools and many businesses, but has stopped short of such an order, saying she has faith Iowans will do their part.
“We had asked our county attorney Alan Ostergren if that was something the board of supervisors could do,” Mather said. “Apparently it is something we do not have the authority to do so that is not something we can consider.”
Ostergren said it is his opinion that a shelter in place order would have to come from the Iowa Department of Public Health through a proclamation by the Iowa governor.
“The local board of health can quarantine specific individuals who are sick but a generalized order would have to come from state authorities,” he said.
Ostergren also said no trials are being held during the time Gov. Kim Reynolds has asked Iowa residents to voluntarily stay home. He said there had been multiple supervisory orders from the Iowa Supreme Court stopping jury and bench trials from happening. He said there can be court hearings, but most are being attempted over the phone. He said there is very little being done in the court system as a result.
Also during the meeting, county emergency management director Brian Wright gave an update on the COVID-19 impact so far. He reiterated Gov. Kim Reynolds’ statements that Muscatine County now has 13 confirmed cases and the state of Iowa has 424 confirmed cases. Additionally Scott County has 16 confirmed cases, Johnson County has 70, and Cedar County has 8. There have also been 5,013 negative tests in the state. So far there have been six COVID-19 related deaths in Iowa.
“The governor has extended her proclamation for businesses to remain closed through April 16,” Wright reported.
Wright said he is requesting people to follow the Muscatine County Public Health directives of people to stay home if they are sick, practice social distancing, and not to travel or leave home unless it is needed.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.