CORONAVIRUS

Hinson: When it comes to COVID-19, Iowans should follow 'rules where they live'

She declines to weigh in on governor's decision to end mask mandate

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

In the wake of Gov. Kim Reynolds’ decision last Friday to drop a statewide mask mandate and relax social distancing rules, U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson declined to weigh in on that decision, saying everyone should instead be “vigilant in following the rules where they live.”

Speaking on a call with reporters Friday morning, Hinson noted that cities, such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Waterloo/Cedar Falls, continue to have citywide mask mandates and that business owners in other places have reinforce coronavirus restrictions after Reynolds lifted the mandates Feb. 5.

“Everyone should, in my opinion, be vigilant in following the rules where they live,” Hinson said. “Right after (Reynolds’) announcement, a lot of businesses announced they would continue to mandate masks.

“I still plan to wear a mask,” said the Marion Republican who represents the 1st Congressional District, which includes Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Waterloo. “I think it’s important to protect those around me as well.”

But Hinson said the U.S. should be following Iowa’s lead in sending students back to school buildings Monday, even as she acknowledged the vaccine rollout was lagging in the state.

“Schools are not a high-transmission environment” for coronavirus, she said. “That’s why I think it’s important to get more vaccine to Iowa, and get front-line workers and teachers vaccinated.”

Hinson and the rest of the Iowa’s other U.S. representatives on Thursday wrote two federal health departments asking them to consider adding Iowa’s community health centers to the vaccine distribution going to federally funded health centers. Only 25 such centers across the country have been included in the pilot program so far.

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“Before COVID-19 and the pandemic, community health centers were critically important, serving vulnerable communities,” Hinson said. “Their role is even more vital right now.”

Besides just getting the vaccine to the state, Hinson said she also was looking at how to spread the word among Iowa’s non-English speaking populations.

She noted “39 different languages” were spoken by patients at the Eastern Iowa Health Center in Cedar Rapids in 2020.

“Trying to figure out how we can look at resources to help with translation and transportation are going to be things that I’m looking at,” she said.

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