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Governor Reynolds defends Iowa State's choice to host 25,000 followers on the soccer stadium: "Don't go for those who don't assume it's protected."

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds speaks during a meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on June 26, 2020.

Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on Wednesday defended Iowa State University's decision to host a soccer game at their stadium that is expected to be attended by 25,000 fans – even as the number of coronavirus cases in the state increases – and advise people who may worried not to go.

"If you have basic conditions and are part of a vulnerable population, maybe I wouldn't go to the soccer game in Iowa next week," Reynolds said during a press conference when asked if it was safe to have thousands of fans online received stands for the home opener of the university.

Shortly after Reynolds' remarks, Jamie Pollard, director of athletics at Iowa State University, said the university would reverse course and not allow fans to enter the stadium after receiving feedback from the community.

"While it is disappointing that there will be no fans at the start, our institution's management team continues to strive to have spectators at future games when it is safe to do so," Pollard said in a statement.

In Story County, where Iowa State University is located, 27% of tests taken last week were positive, Reynolds said at the news conference. She found that 78% of new cases occurred in people between the ages of 19 and 24, which could threaten vulnerable populations if the virus spreads through the community.

"We can't prevent people from getting sick or stop the virus completely, but together we can alleviate and fight it," Reynolds said. "We can do these things safely and responsibly. We can reopen our schools, we can reopen our colleges, we can move forward, but we have personal responsibility."

Pollard originally announced Monday that "every person has a unique perspective on the Covid-19 pandemic," highlighting a number of mitigation efforts the university will be making to host the game, including the required facial covering and social distancing .

He said, however, that implementing the steps toward "a standard of absolute protection just doesn't make sense" and that it is ultimately up to fans to decide whether or not to participate.

"Don't go if you don't think it's safe. Don't go," Reynolds said at the new meeting on Wednesday.

Reynolds has pushed back on granting a statewide masking mandate, despite a White House report on Sunday strongly suggesting the state needed one, according to reports from the Des Moines Register, which cited internal documents from the White House's Coronaviurs Task Force.

The report also called for the state to close bars in 61 counties and limit gatherings to just 10 people in "red zones," which include some of the state's most populous counties and cities.

Reynolds said the state has put in some mitigation efforts to prevent further spread, including closing bars in six counties in the state. However, some public health experts criticized the late arrival order.

The state will monitor the cases over the coming week to see if the steps are enough to prevent further spread, though they will have to take additional measures if they don't, she said.

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