(Des Moines) -- Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control regarding masks in indoor spaces is both confusing and counterproductive.
On Tuesday, the CDC issued new guidance recommending that all individuals -- regardless of vaccination status -- wear masks in indoor spaces in areas with high transmission rates of COVID-19. The new guidance was in response to increased transmission seen from the Delta variant of the virus. Reynolds says constantly changing guidance on masks creates more frustration.
"It's frustrating, it's confusing and they are sending mixed messages constantly," said Reynolds. "They're telling Americans and Iowans that if you get a vaccine, you don't have to wear a mask and then two weeks later they change the message on that. I think it's contradictory. I think it sets us back in what we're trying to do with encouraging people to get vaccinated."
In May, Reynolds signed a bill into law that passed the legislature that would ban individual school districts from implementing any sort of mask mandate. She says her stance will not change unless she sees new data to suggest mask mandates have an effect on COVID-19 infection rates.
"I haven't seen the data," said Reynolds. "They're really not forthcoming on a lot of data that they're using to make this change in the guidance. I really haven't seen any data that would support that states that don't issue a mask mandate versus states that do issue a mask mandate that the statistics are that much different. In fact, remember in November and December when we saw the surge that the entire country was red and you couldn't distinguish between who had a mask mandate and who didn't."
As COVID-19 rates continue to spike across the country, Reynolds says vaccination remains the best defense.
"We're telling people to get vaccinated first and foremost," said Reynolds. "I've been very clear about that. That is the best defense to COVID. We've been very clear. We're extensively doing PSAs and we're making vaccines available. Availability is not an issue. We continue to be very visible about why it's important to get vaccinated."
Reynolds says 61% of all adults in Iowa are fully vaccinated, while 91% of those 65 and older have been vaccinated.
"I don't feel that we should punish everybody because some have made the decision not to," said Reynolds. "I think we're doing a very good job of continuing to make the vaccines available. They'll be at the Iowa State Fair. Hy Vee has agreed to set up a vaccination there as well. People will make the decision. I don't know if they are taking into account the natural immunity if you've had COVID. That's another component of this discussion. Where is that in the recommendations that they are making?"
Reynolds also holds a seat on the Iowa State Fair Board with her position as governor. She says vaccines will be available for those in attendance and encourages anyone who hasn't gotten a shot to get one while in Des Moines.