On Wednesday, Iowa surpassed a grim milestone: 2,000 Iowans have died from COVID-19. Forty people died on Wednesday alone.
Another 1,500 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, a number that has tripled in just four weeks. Another way to look at it: one out of four hospitalizations in the state are coronavirus patients.
And on Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced a new set of mitigation measures to stop the spread of the virus currently rampaging across the state.
These mitigation efforts are, to put it simply, pointless.
In case anyone has possibly forgotten, it’s November. The pandemic hit the state of Iowa in March.
What has Reynolds done to control the virus since? Not much. She insisted that she trusts Iowans to “do the right thing,” and claimed mask mandates are simply unenforceable “feel-good measures.”
Her most recent proclamation seems like a big step, but really it’s a confusing mess of contradictory and useless measures. While the editorial board is glad she’s finally taking some action, there’s really no denying these new mitigation efforts are going to fail.
For example: Reynolds wants to limit the spread of COVID-19 from sporting events. So, she took a look at all available data and decided to allow high schoolers, collegiate athletes and professionals to play sports, but not elementary or middle school children — with no evidence, no data and no real reason to do so. Adults are not less likely to spread COVID-19 than children. Why would she limit sports for kids but not adults? She did update the proclamation Wednesday, allowing children to play sports as well. This brings up an even larger question: why is she allowing sports to happen at all? What's her justification for doing so?
This is just one example of the confusing, unscientific, nearly incomprehensible measures listed in her state proclamation.
Here’s another one: Masks are “required” in indoor spaces (as if she’s going to enforce this) if you can’t social distance or if you’re indoors for longer than 15 minutes. If you’re in a grocery store, standing approximately 6 feet away from someone in line for 14 minutes, then you don’t need to wear a mask, apparently.
Schools are allowed to decide for themselves whether they’ll mandate masks — never mind the skyrocketing rate of cases in schools across the state. And the mandate does not apply to bars, restaurants or religious services.
Speaking of bars, her proclamation requires them to close at 10 p.m. While in theory this makes a little sense, as the largest gatherings tend to take place late at night, she provided no actual evidence to prove late-night bar gatherings are a major spreader of COVID-19, or that closing at 10 p.m. will fix this. If the virus is spreading substantially in bars, then why not just close them completely? We’re still going to see a similar size crowd in bars — just earlier at night.
These guidelines truly make no sense. All they’re going to do is confuse Iowans even further.
Don’t worry, though! Despite all the dithering and dathering when it comes to mitigation measures, Reynolds still strongly encourages all Iowans to avoid events that could spread COVID-19.
In fact, before this proclamation, she had started a new public awareness campaign, using nearly $500,000 of coronavirus relief funds to encourage Iowas to “do the right thing.”
Eight months into the pandemic and she’s still attempting to raise awareness about the virus? Everyone is aware. What a complete waste of time and money.
During her recent press conference, she had the gall to say Iowans have become complacent in fighting the virus. Interesting. Has she considered this so-called complacency is a direct result of her failure to take this seriously?
She can appeal to Iowans’ sense of personal responsibility all she wants. It means nothing unless she does the same. And she hasn’t.
Reynolds has consistently been one of the most hypocritical and irresponsible governors in the country, with her failure to contain coronavirus bested only by Gov. Noem of South Dakota and Gov. Burgum of North Dakota.
For those of you still on the fence about Reynolds, don’t forget: it took over 2,000 deaths before she issued even these measures. And we’ve already demonstrated how terrible and ineffective these mitigation measures are going to be.
How many more deaths will it take before Reynolds decides to actually do something?
Now, let’s be clear. She’s not exactly wrong about the idea of personal responsibility. As a type of pandemic mitigation control, it clearly doesn’t work; however, as individuals, we should be showing some type of responsibility for our actions.
To be fair, even if she took the strongest actions possible, people would still ignore them. She can’t control the actions of every single person in the state, after all.
Her failure to contain the virus does not absolve anyone of their responsibility to the people around them. Wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance.
The editorial board agrees Iowans should take some responsibility for the health and safety of their communities, especially because Reynolds refuses to do so on her own.
As we said before, Reynolds has demonstrated for all her preaching about Iowa values and personal responsibility, she clearly holds none for herself.
Let’s take a look at how she spent the month of October, shall we?
She did not hold any press conferences or televised appearances for COVID-19 updates for nearly the entire month — despite our state’s record-breaking, skyrocketing numbers of cases and hospitalizations during that time.
She defended herself by claiming she had been traveling “across the state and really reaching out to Iowans.” In reality, she was hitting the campaign trail for Sen. Joni Ernst and President Donald Trump.
On Oct. 14, she not only attended but also actively encouraged others to participate in a Trump rally whose lack of social distancing guidelines were in direct conflict with her own emergency order. The order specified that all mass gatherings must allow for 6 feet of social distancing between each participant. That did not happen.
She apparently believes in the effectiveness of masks, but refused to listen to recommendations from state public health experts and the White House Coronavirus Task Force for months. She also claimed there was science “on both sides” when it comes to masks, then quickly reversed course after tough criticism from experts across the state.
When will Reynolds take responsibility for the crisis facing Iowa?
When will she publicly acknowledge the deaths and long-term consequences of the virus? More than 2,000 people have died. Every single one of these deaths was a person with friends and family.
Will she ever take responsibility for the fact that many of these deaths were preventable? The answer is obviously no.
Reynolds failed to do her job. She failed to protect the health and well-being of Iowans.
Our recommendation for Gov. Reynolds is this: exercise some personal responsibility of your own. Do your job or resign and allow someone else to try to fix the mess you made.