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Iowa increases enforcement as state reports 696 new cases

ap photo Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at a news conference on the state’s guidance for returning to school in response to the coronavirus outbreak, Thursday in Des Moines.

A day after officials launched an effort to increase enforcement of distancing orders in bars and restaurants, a state agency reported Friday that there had been nearly 700 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past day.

The Alcoholic Beverages Division, which approves liquor licenses, and the Department of Inspections and Appeals, which issues restaurant permits, announced Thursday a $1,000 fine will be imposed on bars that fail to enforce requirements that people stay 6 feet apart when more than 10 are gathered. Restaurants will get a warning.

Repeat offenses could results in suspensions and revocations of food and alcohol permits and licenses.

The stepped up enforcement comes as the Iowa Department of Public Health reported Friday morning there were 696 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the state total to 44,474. Eleven more people died since Thursday morning for a total of 865 deaths.

The number of hospitalizations, patients on ventilators and those in intensive care units have generally been on the rise this month. The overall state positivity rate — the percentage of those testing getting positive results — was 9.4 percent on Friday.

Gov. Kim Reynolds acknowledged Thursday that if the state continues to see positivity rates and hospitalizations rise she will “have to step back and take a look at if there are additional mitigation efforts needed to put in place.”

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