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In a news conference on Sunday, March 22, 2020, Governor Kim Reynolds says a shelter in place order is not needed in Iowa during coronavirus outbreak. Des Moines Register

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Two of Iowa's Democratic members of Congress are calling on Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a stay-at-home order as the state confirms more cases of the novel coronavirus.

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne issued a letter Monday calling for the statewide mandate, and U.S Rep. Abby Finkenauer issued one last week. They are among a chorus of voices calling on Reynolds to take more aggressive action limiting Iowans' social interactions in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

“You and I are both fully aware of the stories of shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical medical supplies in our state,” Axne wrote. “If the state’s public health experts are predicting an imminent spike already, why then would we not consider a step that would keep all but the most essential workers at home to avoid deepening these shortages over the next month?”

► MORE: The latest on the coronavirus outbreak in Iowa

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State public health officials have said the number of cases in Iowa is not expected to peak for another two to three weeks. As of Monday afternoon, the Iowa Department of Public Health had confirmed 424 cases of COVID-19. Six have died.

"We must put the health and safety of Iowa families above all else at this time," Finkenauer wrote.

According to the New York Times, at least 30 states now have orders in place restricting residents from leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary.

Reynolds, a Republican, has repeatedly said that a similar order is unnecessary in Iowa at this time.

"We're seeing some states issue shelter-in-place or stay-at-home orders, causing some to ask, 'Why not Iowa?' " she said at a recent news conference. "In fact, many of the steps that we have already taken are equivalent to the stay-at-home orders that we are seeing in several of these states, like closing schools and some businesses, implementing work from home and distant learning, and reducing gatherings to 10 people."

► MORE: Coronavirus Watch: Does Iowa need a shelter-in-place order?

► MORE: These states have ordered residents to avoid nonessential travel amid coronavirus

Reynolds — whose state, like many, also is facing skyrocketing unemployment claims — also has said she needs to weigh the potential economic effects of such an order.

"It's important, also, that we keep Iowa open for business in a responsible way that protects the health of our people and our economy," she said last week.

Reynolds also said last week that Iowa is already under informal stay-at-home guidance to fight the novel coronavirus. Over the last two weeks, she had also, by order and by recommendation, progressively closed more and more places where people congregate, including stores, restaurants and gyms.

Last week, President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion emergency aid package to help manage the fallout. And on Sunday, he announced that the White House would extend its social distancing recommendations for an additional month through the end of April.

Brianne Pfannenstiel is the chief politics reporter for the Register. Reach her at bpfann@dmreg.com or 515-284-8244. Follow her on Twitter at @brianneDMR.

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