The Dubuque County Board of Supervisors today considered a draft of a countywide "shelter-in-place" order, but they did not vote on the measure.
They are scheduled to revisit during their meeting on Wednesday, April 8.
Supervisor Jay Wickham composed the draft, which was added the meeting's agenda late Sunday night.
Wickham said today that his process began two weeks ago, when he voiced his recommendation for Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a statewide order. Then, he moved to discussions with the mayors of the county's municipalities.
"It appears that both the governor and the mayors at this point are not moving forward," he said. "It was important enough to me to bring it to my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors for discussion."
If approved today, the order would have taken effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, and run through April 30.
"Whereas, further restriction of movement of persons is necessary to reduce the substantial risk of harm to the public and, therefore, as long as this resolution is in effect, all individuals in Dubuque County are required to shelter in place, except to perform certain essential activities or to perform work in or obtain services from an essential activity," the draft order stated.
The order quotes Reynolds on March 23 as saying, "Local officials do have the authority to initiate shelter in place order if they deem it necessary.”
Reynolds has not issued such an order, despite requests from some to do so.
The Dubuque County order requires that all non-essential businesses close, though businesses can continue to operate with employees working from home.
The order lists more than 15 categories of essential businesses, including health care facilities, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, day care centers, banks and credit unions, auto repair shops and auto dealerships, and veterinary clinics and pet stores.
This was a snag for Supervisor Dave Baker, who said he will submit his own list of essential businesses ahead of Wednesday's meeting. He said that list would specifically include the media.
"The list I'm familiar with is much longer," he said. "I think the news media is essential to our efforts keeping the public informed. Nobody does it better."
Under the draft order, travel by county residents would have been prohibited, "except for purposes of essential travel, performing essential activities or going to work in an essential business, government facility or critical infrastructure."
The order also would have prohibited "all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single household or dwelling unit." The order does not impact gatherings of people who live in the same residence.
The draft also recommends that residents wear non-medical-grade face masks when they are out in public, in line with the recent recommendation from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The draft order states that pursuant to state code, people who violate "a lawful board order for isolation or quarantine" can be charged with a simple misdemeanor. Being guilty of the offense is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail.
Supervisor Ann McDonough said she was concerned with potentially confusing the public with an order opposed to the governor's direction.
"People should stay home, full stop," she said. "But for me, it's about, how can we be a strong voice but not add confusion? Any time we pass an order that restricts economic enterprise, restricts movement, that mandates what they choose for themselves and their families, we should only do that when we have the authority to do so."
She referenced a decision by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller that counties did not have that authority.
County Attorney C.J. May III will review the draft, along with interim Board of Supervisors Executive Director Ed Raber and County Auditor Denise Dolan and submit recommended changes before Wednesday's meeting.
Wickham said he was happy that the board at least discussed the order.
"My message would be not to overthink it," he said. "We’re not the first. The idea of us getting it exactly right would also be a fallacy. But I’m encouraged by the dialogue."
This story will be updated.