Government

Gov. Kim Reynolds creates business-led economic recovery advisory board

Ruan CEO to chair 13-member panel

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference at the Statehou
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state’s response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference at the Statehouse, Thursday, June 18, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, pool)

DES MOINES — Saying that Iowa is well into the recovery phase of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Kim Reynolds on Thursday created an advisory board to make recommendations on the state’s economic recovery.

Members of the 13-member Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which she created by executive order, will be mainly state business leaders. Reynolds named Ben McLean, CEO of Ruan Transportation, as the board’s chairman.

Dr. Suresh Gunasekaran, CEO of University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, is the panel’s only health professional.

“This will help us chart a course for Iowa’s economic comeback and really capitalize on the opportunities created by the new normal that we’ve all been talking about for the last few months,” Reynolds said.

“This board will be our economic tip of the spear, looking across the spectrum of Iowa businesses and industries and nonprofit organizations to assess the economic impact of COVID-19 and those whose livelihoods have been hit hard by this pandemic, to analyze and recommend recovery and growth efforts, and to identify the opportunities these changes have opened for us to build the next generation of Iowa’s economy and workforce.”

Iowa’s coronavirus figures have been trending in a positive direction for weeks. The seven-day averages for new deaths (5.6), current hospitalizations (197.4) and recent hospital admissions (19.6) have fallen to late-April levels.

Rt value

The state’s Rt value — the average number of people who become infected by someone with the virus — is 0.9. Nationally, this number is seen as a key measure of how fast the virus is spreading. If an Rt value is above 1.0, the virus will spread rapidly; below that, it will not.

Eighteen states have cases spiking — with Rt values ranging from 1.0 to 1.10 — including Indiana, Oklahoma, Florida and Texas.

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Some elected officials have attributed those spikes to increased testing, but medical and public health efforts have cautioned new testing alone may not explain those increases.

Iowa’s cases are largely steady, and Reynolds said she is confident in the state’s ability to quickly respond to potential outbreaks and to the business community’s attention to virus mitigation.

“We’re just going to do like we do every day,” she said. “We’re going to continue to manage and do everything that we can to contain the virus. That’s not going to change.”

‘Heartfelt thanks’

At the end of her news conference, Reynolds announced she would be going back to weekly news conferences. She held them daily during the height of the pandemic and twice a week more recently.

Reynolds then fought back tears as she thanked the Iowans who have reached out to her in the past three months.

“I just want to say a heartfelt thanks to all Iowans out there for being with me, for the notes and the prayers that you’ve sent my way throughout this really difficult time,” Reynolds said, struggling to get the words out. “It really has sustained me. And I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate those notes and cards that I’ve received.”

Advisory Board members

The 13 Iowans on the Governor’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board are:

• Ben McLean, CEO of Ruan Transportation, chairman

• Nick Bowdesh, president/CEO, Elite Octane

• Mary Andringa, board chairwoman, Vermeer

• Randy Edeker, CEO, Hy-Vee

• Rosalind Fox, factory manager, John Deere

• Dr. Suresh Gunasekaran, CEO, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

• Dan Houston, chairman, president/CEO, Principal Financial Group

• Megan McKay, president, Peace Tree Brewing Co.

• AJ Loss, CEO, Bush Construction

• Emily Schmitt, general counsel, Sukup Manufacturing Co.

• Barbara Sloniker, executive vice president, Siouxland Chamber

• Adam Wright, president/CEO, MidAmerican Energy Co.

• Diane Young, director/owner, Foundation Analytical Lab

Comments: (563) 383-2492; erin.murphy@lee.net

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