Iowans have made big sacrifices to protect our families, friends and neighbors.
Businesses have been forced to close, people were laid off, and many parents are now at-home teachers—all while keeping a distance from the kind of community and family support we count on during a crisis.
And then there’s the lack of leadership at the top.
Save grandma or save the economy. Save Iowans working in meatpacking plants or save protein. Protect privacy or protect virus-outbreak data. Protect health or protect freedom of religion. Save Iowa’s economy or save ourselves.
These are false choices. Even Governor Reynolds knows it.
Yet, the Governor and Republican legislators continue to deliver narratives that are heavy on spin and light on facts and data.
Ignoring the warnings of health experts is more than dangerous. It’s deadly for our health and economy.
Iowa hasn’t flattened the curve. The number of COVID-19 cases is still increasing, and nationally ranked hotspots are popping up all over the state.
Despite the numbers and the clear warnings from health experts in Iowa and across the country, Governor Reynolds is distancing Iowans from the facts with ribbon-cutting rhetoric.
Instead, Iowans deserve:
COVID-19 REPORTING WE CAN TRUST: Iowans need daily access to ZIP Code-specific COVID-19 numbers. Data from the botched Test Iowa program is giving us inaccurate information on cases, deaths, hospitalizations and contact tracing. It is unacceptable that the Governor is allowing workplaces to hide COVID-19 outbreak information from employees, customers and the public.
ACCURATE, ACCESSIBLE & TIMELY TESTING: Nebraska legislators are calling for their Governor to put the kibosh on the failed Test Nebraska program. Governor Reynolds’s $26 million no-bid, no-results Test Iowa program is a failure. Iowans deserve access to testing and contact tracing in all 99 counties, every day. Local county health departments should be in charge of running testing and contact-tracing programs.
WORKPLACE & SAFETY NET POLICIES TO PREVENT SUPER-SPREAD: Keeping Iowans safe will require new policies that incentivize people to stay home instead of spread COVID-19 because they are pressured to go to work. We need a better safety net, more accountability for taxpayer dollars, and an end to sweetheart deals for campaign donors.
SAFE ACCESS TO FOOD, HEALTH CARE & DEMOCRACY: One of the easiest ways to make sure Iowans don’t go hungry is to expand nutrition assistance programs. They help families access food, while providing business for our local grocery stores and farmers. The Legislature also should extend telemedicine parity so that Iowans can get health care no matter where they live. And we ought to access federal aid to help more Iowans safely vote from home in the November general election.
ACCESS TO BROADBAND & TECHNOLOGY: Finally, the first day back to school will look completely different than what we’ve seen in our lifetimes. That’s why every Iowa family and child needs access to broadband and technology. Let’s expand Iowa’s networks. It will pay off in many ways for decades to come.
It is time to give Iowans confidence that the decisions to reopen ourbusinesses, local schools, childcare facilities, and houses of worship are based on data and common sense, not polling. Our lives and our economy depend upon it.
Senator Janet Petersen of Des Moines is the Senate Democratic Leader