Reynolds rescinded the mandate last Friday after expressing her confidence in Iowans’ ability to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus independently. She also cited falling case numbers as proof that the worst of the pandemic is over.
“Iowans know what to do. We’ve been telling them for a year what they need to do. And they’re doing it,” she said, according to the Des Moines Register.
Democrats slammed Reynolds for allegedly rescinding the mandate without speaking to the state health director first.
“When Director Kelly Garcia got that question, she commented that no, they had not been consulted regarding the governor’s latest health proclamation,” Democratic state Rep. Lindsay James told Iowa Public Radio.
“It took my breath away. It is mind boggling to me that the governor didn’t consult her own public health experts when making such a major public health decision for our state.”
A spokesperson for Reynolds did not deny the reports that she did not consult with state health officials, but added the move followed her commitment to gradually reopen the state safely.
“The governor has been consistent since the beginning of the pandemic and is following through with her commitment to dial back restrictions based on a significant decrease in COVID hospitalizations,” spokesperson Pat Garrett said in a statement.
Reynolds was hesitant to implement a mask mandate in the first place, waiting until last November to do so.
Even then, her mask mandate was minimal, requiring Iowans to wear masks when they were inside public places and unable to socially distance for 15 minutes or more.
“I’m not saying, ‘Go out there and be carefree and not be responsible,'” Reynolds explained. “I’m saying, ‘I trust Iowans to do the right thing.’ And I know our businesses will do the right thing, too. They’re doing it every day.”