CORONAVIRUS

Theresa Greenfield calls on Sen. Joni Ernst to apologize to health care workers

U,S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield speaks Nov. 2, 2019, during the Finkenauer Fish Fry at the Hawkeye Downs Expo C
U,S. Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield speaks Nov. 2, 2019, during the Finkenauer Fish Fry at the Hawkeye Downs Expo Center in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Theresa Greenfield is “hot under the collar” about remarks her opponent, Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, made two weeks ago about health care workers inflating the numbers of COVID-19 cases.

“I’m upset ... frankly, I’m ticked off,” she told reporters Tuesday afternoon, because rather than supporting health care workers, Ernst “has been attacking them and attacking the health care that so many Iowans rely upon.”

Nobody “grandstands” like Greenfield, who opposed coronavirus relief measures approved by congressional Democrats and Republicans, the Ernst campaign responded.

Greenfield was referring to a comment Ernst made in Black Hawk County on Aug. 31 when responding to a person who said COVID-19 deaths were being overcounted. Ernst said she, too, was “skeptical” of the numbers.

Since then, Ernst apologized to medical workers for her comment on a call with the Iowa Medical Society.

That’s not good enough for Greenfield, a Des Moines real estate executive who is in a competitive race to replace Ernst. Most polling — regardless of which candidate is leading — has shown the race to be within the margin of error.

“Sen. Ernst, I’m calling on you today to publicly apologize to our doctors, our nurses, our health care workers, our hospitals,” Greenfield said. “These folks are heroes, and they’re putting their lives on the line to keep us healthy and safe during this pandemic.”

It’s Greenfield’s support for health care workers that should be questioned, according to the Ernst campaign.

“When it comes to helping doctors, nurses and front-line workers, Greenfield opposes the Democrat-led HEROES Act, opposes the Republican-led COVID relief bill and calls the bipartisan CARES Act a slush fund,” said Ernst campaign spokeswoman Melissa Deatsch.

But Greenfield’s campaign said she opposed an early version of the CARES Act that would have bailed out Republicans’ corporate donors. It was not approved.

Greenfield was critical of the GOP COVID-19 bill because it didn’t do enough. She also said she would have voted against a Democratic plan.

Asked whether she would have confidence in a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Greenfield said she would follow the advice of public health officials.

If a vaccine becomes available, she said, it should be free and “accessible to as many people as possible.”

“It’s really important that we roll it out in a way that protects the most vulnerable, protects our essential workers and starts to get that coverage where we need it first and foremost,” Greenfield said.

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

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