116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
This week the federal government sent a COVID-19 surge team into southwest Missouri, where hospitalizations and case numbers have spiked. At Cox South, an overwhelmed Springfield hospital, COVID-19 patients are being transferred to other, better staffed facilities.
These are the sorts of troubling headlines we hoped would fade into the past as vaccinations clamped down on the pandemic’s spread. But only 39.4 percent of adult Missourians are fully vaccinated. The combination of low vaccination rates and the circulation of more contagious virus variants promise to keep the pandemic with us for months ahead.
Iowa is doing better than Missouri, with 45.9 percent residents fully vaccinated. But some of the lowest vaccination rates are in rural counties, including several bordering Missouri. Nebraska, too, has seen a recent jump in case numbers.
That’s why it strikes us as puzzling that starting Wednesday, the state stopped reporting daily data on new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Instead, the data will be reported weekly on Wednesdays.
But data on long-term outbreaks, serology, occupation data, underlying health conditions and Test Iowa assessments will no longer be posted. Test Iowa is set to shut down on July 16 and by “late summer” the state’s coronavirus.iowa.gov website will go dark. Data will be reported on the Department of Public Health website, just like seasonal flu reports.
The state’s stagnant vaccination rate and the circulation of variants remain serious public health concerns in Iowa. Stemming the flow of timely, transparent data on a pandemic that has not yet ended is a misguided decision that could deny Iowans critical information. And if the state doesn’t provide information, where are Iowans to turn?
We understand that Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is preparing to run for reelection, is touting how the state is open and recovered. The governor and her fellow Republicans have repeatedly downplayed the pandemic threat, resisting public health measures and insisting that they trust Iowans to make the right decisions.
But it’s difficult to make full formed judgments without information. So this seems like yet another pandemic decision aimed more at keeping up political appearances than keeping Iowans safe.
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