County buildings remain closed for now

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Supervisors aim for mid-May soft opening

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register

To open or not to open…that is the question plaguing many counties since Gov. Kim Reynolds’ most recent proclamation in regard to COVID-19. The Clayton County Board of Supervisors found themselves pondering this very question in a spirited debate during last Tuesday’s meeting, with some of those in attendance questioning the decision altogether. The refrain of “should we open” was a running theme of the discussion.

On the one hand, there is Reynolds’ proclamation, which creates more questions than answers, and the feeling among those in attendance was that there was still some level of confusion in the community. While guidance on the issue exists, there is a lack of definitives. 

While restaurants can open at 50 percent capacity, they don’t have to. Some are even preferring to remain closed due to safety and financial concerns. Some will open in an attempt to return to normalcy, but at what cost? As one meeting attendant said, “How can we operate in a safe way?” 

Clayton County is surrounded by several counties still currently in “lock down.” This concern was coupled with the fact that cases appear to be rising, not leveling off. Iowa has not “peaked” yet, which led one attendee to declare, “Numbers are going up! Why are we opening?”

On the other hand, there’s the individual choice of the consumers and business owners, who can, if they wish, open for business as usual or as close to usual as possible. Some in this group even question whether Clayton County and the governor had the right to stop individual choice in the first place. 

Under this cloud of apprehension, the supervisors decided county buildings will not immediately return to being fully open to the public, and urged local business to use caution, no matter what they choose when opening day arrives. 

The board discussed several concerns about a return to pre-COVID status, such as a possible flood of people coming and going, possibly igniting a COVID outbreak in the county. Instead, they have decided to formulate a plan to combat those health and safety concerns and are aiming for a “soft opening” around mid-May and allow for reassessment as necessary. But as one supervisor said, “Watch the numbers. If it ain’t working, it ain’t working.” Everything, as they say, is subject to change. 

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