U.S. Iowa governor issues statewide mask mandate, puts limits on gatherings

(File Photo: Agencies)

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- The governor of the U.S. state of Iowa on Monday issued a statewide mask mandate which will last from Nov. 17 to Dec. 10 in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, according to a press release.

Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation Monday night, requiring that people who are in an indoor public space and unable to social distance for 15 minutes or longer, must wear masks.

"The same requirements apply to visitors and employees inside State buildings," said the governor's office.

The proclamation also limits indoor social, community, business and leisure gatherings or events to 15 people, while outdoor gatherings are limited to 30. All organized youth and adult sports activities are suspended except for high school, collegiate and professional sports.

Restaurants, bars and indoor playgrounds are required to close at 10 p.m. and cannot host private gatherings of more than 15 people.

The mask mandate comes as Iowa is suffering from a rapid increase in new COVID-19 cases that overwhelmed hospitals. The state health department reported 2,335 new cases on Monday, bringing the total caseload to 187,020.

The United States has reported 11,202,109 confirmed cases as of Monday night, according to the tally of Johns Hopkins University. Almost all of its states are on red alert for a coronavirus surge.

Iowa broke records for hospitalizations, patients in intensive care, number of patients admitted in the last 24 hours and patients on ventilators on Monday. There are currently 1,392 people hospitalized with coronavirus in the state.