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What does Iowa opening up mean for SAU students?

Photo retrieved from Madison Epperson '20.

On Friday, February 5, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a public health proclamation that rolled back all COVID restrictions for Iowa businesses as of 12:01 a.m. on that following Sunday.

This decision removed mask requirements, gathering limits and restrictions on businesses. 

The proclamation from Governor Reynolds states “I strongly encourage that all businesses or other employers remaining open with in-person operations take reasonable measures under the circumstances of each establishment to ensure the health of employees, patrons, and members of the public, including social distancing practices, increased hygiene practices, and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 consistent with guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Public Health” and that “This section shall not be a basis for closing or taking enforcement action against a business or other employer absent an additional specific order or directive of the Iowa Department of Public Health.”

The proclamation is set to continue until 11:59 p.m. on March 7, 2021.

This change follows after a drop in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the state. However, health experts across the country are still encouraging wearing masks, upgrading to double masks and following social distancing. 

At this moment, Iowa is ranked 48th in the country, ahead of Idaho and Missouri, in vaccine distribution. Iowa currently has around 2.8 percent of the state’s population vaccinated with their second dose according to the New York Times and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Iowa is also ranked as one of the highest for total deaths from the coronavirus.

With new variants of the virus being discovered and even detected in Iowa, not every area is following Gov. Reynolds guidance. At this time, Des Moines, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Ames, Iowa have all announced that they will be denying these drawbacks, keeping their own safety measures in place. 

But what does this mean for St. Ambrose University and the Davenport community?

At this time, Scott County has the following restrictions. Gatherings in total have no restrictions. In addition, hotels, retail, restaurants, bars, gyms, salons, theaters, casinos and athletic events are open. These restrictions do not apply to Rock Island County in Illinois.

However, the Quad Cities community as a whole, with the campaign, Together Quad Cities, urges citizens to all work together to slow the spread of COVID in the community.

Photo retrieved from Together Quad Cities.

St. Ambrose University will also remain diligent in their efforts to slow the spread of the virus. All SAU students and employees have pledged to adhere to the Bee Promise to keep the campus and community safe. Those expectations carry on regardless of the recent Iowa order.

“The health and safety of our students and campus community are too important to change the policies and practices we, in consultation with local and regional health agencies, implemented in August,” Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD said. “Health experts continue to recommend the careful use of masks, social distancing, and safe hygiene as we work toward the end of this tragic, global pandemic. As such, we must insist that we continue these practices through the conclusion of the spring semester, and failure to adhere to the Bee Safe, Bee Responsible Promise will have consequences.”

Photo retrieved from Yasmin Toto ’22.

Since the spring semester has begun, SAU is reporting a total of nine positive cases with 48 total tests (positive and negative).

Students and employees that qualify at this time are gradually receiving the vaccination, too.  

“I hope we all learned a lesson from the premature conclusion of in-person classes last fall,” Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, PhD said. “More than a few of your classmates conceded a sense of complacency led to some careless behaviors that allowed the virus to spread in the community and on campus and forced an unfortunate end to a largely successful semester. We cannot allow that to happen this spring and so we ask and expect our students to cooperate in full.”

For more information on COVID in Scott County, click here.
For more information about how SAU is managing COVID, click here.