Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, today urged all Des Moines residents to stay at home for at least 14 days.

“I think it’s our responsibility to protect the health and well being of our citizens and their families,” Cownie told the Business Record. “It’s also important that we keep our own city employees healthy.”

Cownie’s urgent request of residents was made about an hour after Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on Saturday that there were 23 additional positive cases of Iowans with COVID-19, four of which are located in Polk County. In all, 68 Iowans have tested positive for the highly contagious virus. No COVID-19 related deaths have been reported in the state.

Reynolds has not issued a shelter in place order, an order made in at least three other states: California, Illinois and New York.

Cownie said he took the extra step as a way to help slow the spread of the virus. “If we move as expeditiously maybe we can slow the spread,” he said. “I am hopeful that we can do similar things across the state.”

Cownie, in the release, urged residents to only leave their homes for essential needs such as groceries, medicine and health care including getting fresh air and exercise while appropriately social distancing. Cownie stressed that such efforts should be limited to one or two people per household and not become a family outing.

Cownie told the Business Record that residents should also continue to support restaurants by ordering carryout or delivery meals but while practicing social distancing.

“I support local producers and local businesses,” he said. “But let’s not congregate and do things that spread the virus.”

In the release, the city also announced it was curtailing all parking meter enforcement except where specifically prohibited, including near fire hydrants, fire lanes and loading zones.

Des Moines, like most other cities, has closed until at least April 13 public access to City Hall and several other public buildings. In addition, all of the city’s libraries are closed.