DES MOINES, IOWA – Wednesday, August 26, 2020 – Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie today signed an emergency proclamation making face coverings mandatory in public places whenever proper social distance cannot be maintained. The mask mandate took effect as the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) surpassed 58,000 positive cases statewide with nearly 12,000 in Polk County.
“New positive cases of the virus continue at an alarming rate in Polk County and the City of Des Moines, putting the health care system and City residents in immediate danger with no end in sight to the alarming rate of infection,” the proclamation states.
According to Polk County Emergency Management, Iowa’s positive cases have been rising since August 9, and Iowa is one of only eight states with increasing activity.
“We are switching from an urgent recommendation to a mandate. This is to send a strong and clear message that we need to be accountable and disciplined in battling this pandemic,” Cownie said. “Now more than ever we have to protect the health and well-being of the citizens of Des Moines and the state of Iowa.”
According to the proclamation, all persons in the City of Des Moines shall wear a face covering such as a cloth mask, surgical mask, plastic shield or similar covering that covers their nose and mouth when in a public place in all of the following circumstances unless as excepted in the proclamation:
No organization that is a public accommodation of any sort, including without limitation, a business that is open to the public, may provide service to a customer or allow a customer to enter its premises, unless the customer is wearing a face covering as required by this Proclamation, and such organizations must post signs at entrance(s) instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside pursuant to this Proclamation. The provisions shall not apply to the following persons:
Scientific studies have shown that face coverings over the mouth and nose significantly reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Des Moines joins four other cities where mask mandates have been issued – Iowa City, Dubuque, Mount Vernon and Muscatine.
At least 35 states and the District of Columbia mandate face coverings in public, however, Iowa is not among them. Earlier this month health experts with the White House coronavirus task force recommended that Iowa officials issue a mask mandate.
Mayor Cownie added that Des Moines Police will not be focused on issuing citations to violators, instead they will stress the health and safety behind the mandate and encourage the public to wear face coverings.
“We prefer handing out masks to writing citations,” said Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert. “That is why our department ordered 10,000 face coverings for our officers to distribute to the public.”
It was two weeks ago when Des Moines initiated a safety campaign to provide free face coverings to residents who needed them. Mayor Cownie directed the City to purchase and distribute face coverings to keep residents safe while educating them on the benefits of masks.
To date, more than 10,000 have been distributed through Des Moines Parks and Recreation, Des Moines Public Library, DART, Blank Park Zoo, YMCA of Greater Des Moines, Central Iowa Shelter & Services, Des Moines Botanical Garden as well as various community and faith-based organizations.
“We want everyone to wear a face covering in Des Moines and to be diligent about keeping distance from others in public settings,” Cownie added.
Communications Manager, City Manager’s Office
About the City of Des Moines
The City of Des Moines: Iowa’s capital city and local government servicing more than 217,000 residents, 51+ neighborhoods, over 4,000 acres of parkland and 81 miles of trails. The City of Des Moines stands to be a financially strong city with exceptional city services, fostering an involved community in a customer friendly atmosphere. Visit DSM.city, Facebook and Twitter for more information.