116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Reality is one destination where no passport is needed. Iowa lawmakers really should go there and dump the debate over “vaccine passports.”
No Iowa governmental entity is talking about requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to conduct public business. Reports of Iowa businesses barring the unvaccinated also are not rolling in.
And yet, Republican House and Senate leadership and the governor are pushing for late session, high-profile action to ban government and businesses from requiring proof of vaccination. It exempts health care facilities, for now.
"No Iowan should be forced to have a chemical injected into their body against their will in order to be able to go to a grocery store, attend a baseball game or a movie, or travel freely in our state and our country," said Rep. Stephen Holt, R-Denison during a recent committee hearing on House File 889.
Holt and his strident allies rarely miss a chance to conjure a conspiracy, demonize health directives or pretend the real tragedy of the pandemic isn’t hundreds of thousands infected and thousands dead in Iowa. The real victims are inconvenienced folks who saw their liberties trampled by having to wear a mask in Menards.
The reality is vaccinations have slowed in Iowa, with 80 counties declining all or some of their allotment of shots for next week. According to the CDC Iowa ranks a decent 14th with 32 percent of eligible Iowans fully vaccinated and 43 percent of Iowans receiving at least one shot. But the trend doesn’t look good.
So at a pivotal moment when this could go either way, and our efforts should be aimed at pushing vaccine numbers upward, Statehouse leaders saw this as a great time to raise the profile of vaccine resisters and move the wheels of government to protect them from imaginary persecution.
Strong message. Get vaccinated! Or don’t, because freedom!
The passport issue, if it ever truly exists here, can wait. Lawmakers will have to come back for a special summer session to deal with redistricting. If, by then, vaccine mandates have become a real civil liberties issue, address it.
If Republicans, once pro-property-rights, want to use the flimsy excuse of a sales tax license to take away business owners’ ability to keep their staff and customers safe, they can do it then.
Until then, the state’s entire COVID-19 focus should be on encouraging as many Iowans as possible to get vaccinated. That’s how we reclaim the freedom to live our lives.
But it’s a tough sell for Gov. Kim Reynolds. For much of the pandemic, her biggest COVID-19 decisions have sought to please the nothing-to-see-here crowd and help her political allies.
She tossed aside mitigation measures again and again against the advice of health experts. She turned a blind eye to meatpacking worker outbreaks to please large livestock interests, also among her largest donors. She campaigned, mostly maskless, for GOP candidates in October as the pandemic’s deadliest surge began taking hold. She stood by while GOP leaders dismissed the need for Statehouse virus safety measures to protect staff and visitors.
Reynolds’s mantra is Iowans must learn to live with COVID-19
Now Reynolds has to learn to live with the fact that her constant encouragement of virus skeptics and deniers may keep her state from reaching a vaccination rate crucial to helping our lives and livelihoods emerge from the shadow of the pandemic. She led us to this reality.
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