Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-Iowa) warned furloughed workers that the refusal to return to work would result in the loss of unemployment benefits in a news conference Friday. Reynolds and other state officials and departments have reiterated the consequences, despite experts’ warnings that reopening could lead to a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Reynolds issued a proclamation last week that opened 77 of the state’s 99 counties on May 1 – while as of Thursday afternoon, that the number of cases in the state has more than doubled since April 25.

In the order, Reynolds declared that businesses like restaurants, bars, retail stores and fitness centers could reopen at half-capacity on May 1.

She also said that a series of nonessential cosmetic and entertainment businesses, like tanning facilities and drive-in movie theaters, could resume operations May 8.


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The partial reopening comes as Iowa experiences one of the nation’s fastest growth rates in coronavirus cases.

The Iowa Workforce Development, a state agency that provides employment services for individual workers, backed Reynolds. The governor has said that an employee’s refusal return to work out of fear would be considered a “voluntary quit.” That would mean that the employee could no longer receive jobless claim benefits.

Reynolds stated that the 77 reopened counties either have no cases or are on a downward trend. Vice President Mike Pence, the leader of the White House coronavirus task force, is slated to visit the Des Moines metropolitan area after the recent upsurge in confirmed COVID-19 infections alarmed the mayor and medical officials.


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