CORONAVIRUS

Grassley will pass on opportunity to dine out, for now

Sen. Chuck Grassley picks on a person to ask a question during a town hall at the Independence Public Library in Indepen
Sen. Chuck Grassley picks on a person to ask a question during a town hall at the Independence Public Library in Independence, Iowa, on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. The meeting with his constituents is part of his 99 county tour of the state. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley has been following health professionals’ advice on social distancing.

“Five weeks at the farm at New Hartford, isolated, not being more than a mile from my home and most of that is when I was doing my morning runs,” Grassley said Thursday.

That farm is in Butler County, one of 77 counties where Gov. Kim Reynolds is allowing restaurants, malls and other businesses, and churches to resume activities with some limitations beginning Friday.

Grassley, who has watched church services on his iPad for the past five Sundays, has no plans to stray farther from the farm for either church or a meal at a local restaurant. Church services will be a non-issue because he will be flying back to Washington on Saturday.

“I probably wouldn’t go to a restaurant if I was here on Saturday,” he told reporters. “I look forward to returning, like I do with my kids on weekends — church and then a meal afterward at our favorite restaurant in Cedar Falls.”

Cedar Falls is across the county line in Black Hawk County, one of 22 counties with the vast majority of positive COVID-19 cases and where the governor’s disaster proclamation restrictions on gatherings, including dine-in restaurants, remain in effect.

Grassley didn’t comment specifically on Reynolds’ relaxed guidelines for 77 mostly rural counties where she said where data on the spread of coronavirus points to a stabilization or downward trend in positive cases.

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He was disappointed that President Donald Trump said he has no intention of extending beyond Thursday the social distancing guidelines crafted by the federal government to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

“I wish he would keep them in place for another month because I think they’re a good approach to opening up the economy,” Grassley said.

He expects states to follow their own plans for reopening businesses because “we’re such a geographically vast country ... so different from one part of the part of the country to the other.”

“It’s something that should be not one national standard for this,” Grassley said. “If you’ve got to wait to open up New York City, we aren’t going to get back to work fast enough. People do want to go to work.”

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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