FILE - Virus Outbreak Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds

(The Center Square) – Gov. Kim Reynolds has started the process of reopening the state’s economy.

“We’re going to look at ways to start opening up,” Reynolds said at a recent news conference. “It’s time.”

Reynolds’ approach comes despite a recent surge of more than 500 new COVID-19 cases in the state, even though most businesses remain shuttered and gatherings of more than 10 people are forbidden.

Still, the new proclamation Reynolds signed off on is set to run through May 27 takes steps to loosen some restrictions, namely allowing for elective surgeries and paving the way for farmers’ markets to operate under certain conditions. In addition, the governor hinted she may soon allow businesses in areas of the state not hit as hard by the virus to resume business on some level.

Reynolds’s outlook is partly based on an increased level of testing that allows state officials to more clearly focus on known hot spots for the virus.

“All of that allows us to be very targeted in how we respond,” she said. “It allows us to start to open up other areas where there are no cases or very few cases.”

While public health data shows that 16 counties across the state have reported no outbreaks of coronavirus, Reynolds added all the recent increases in overall numbers are the result of more intense testing. In all, she estimates that one out of every 98 state residents has now been tested for the virus.

Across the country, governors have struggled with the question of when and how to safely reopen their economies. The state of Georgia recently moved to reopen barber shops, nail salons, gyms and other businesses, with Oklahoma and Tennessee not far behind.

Reynolds has said she thinks the Opening Up America phased approach offered up the Trump administration could serve as a rationale guideline.