Guest Columnist

An open letter from Iowa to coronavirus

'You prey on the old. Well, get ready. Older Iowans are some of the most stubborn and resilient people you will ever meet.'

Jeff Quint (right) pours alcohol into a four gallon bucket while with water and xanthin gum while Steve Shriver uses an
Jeff Quint (right) pours alcohol into a four gallon bucket while with water and xanthin gum while Steve Shriver uses an immersion blender to make hand cleanser at Quint’s Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery in Swisher on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Steve Shriver and Ryan Sundermann, UnityPoint Health - St. Luke's Hospital Emergency Department medical director, partnered with Cedar Ridge to develop and produce a 65% hand cleanser using the heads, or byproducts from the distilling process. The bottles will be given away for free. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Dear coronavirus (COVID-19),

You are terrible. Please go away. But first …

Thank you for reminding us what we are capable of. Families are cooking together and eating at the dinner table. Communities, businesses and individuals are mobilizing to help those in need. Problems are being met with new, innovative solutions.

Thank you for giving us time. People are finally reading that book they started long ago. Artists are hunkering down and creating more art. Neighborhoods are getting spruced up as people work on their homes and yards. Folks are collecting trash during their new walking routines.

Thank you for the reminder to connect. Many of us are connecting with old friends through video hangouts. People are hiking local trails again (while keeping a safe distance, of course) and communing with nature. Folks are appreciating musicians in a whole new way, connecting with them as they pour their hearts into webcam recordings and live shows.

This ‘thank you’ letter will give you a taste of what we call “Iowa Nice.” We are just generally nice. We know how to appreciate good outcomes, even when they emerge from challenging times. But don’t let that fool you.

We are tough people. Our work ethic is like nothing you’ve seen — just look at our calloused hands. Washing our fertile soil off them after a hard day’s work is as natural as anything else we do. We didn’t think twice when it was apparent that our own hands should pitch in to address the shortage of hand sanitizer. We didn’t think twice to fire up 3D printers and figure out how to make face masks that can help members of our medical community stay safe.

You see, in challenging times, communities band together, work hard, and grind through the chaos. We have been battered by floods, tornadoes, droughts, blizzards and freezes. We can get through this.

You prey on the old. Well, get ready. Older Iowans are some of the most stubborn and resilient people you will ever meet. They can endure. Whether it’s a string of bad crops, a hellacious visit from the grandchildren, or an unwelcome virus that changes what’s normal, they can and will endure. They’ve seen hard work and patience yield a return to normal many times.

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We’re figuring things out pretty quickly as things get worse, but we weren’t sitting around completely unprepared when you arrived. Iowans were “preppers” before prepping was cool. Have you seen what we can do with a canner and a box of Mason jars? Have you seen us at a tailgate? We can save, store and whip up food any way, anyhow, anywhere, and we have a fondness for sharing it with others.

So, corona, no matter how long you stay, how many lives you upend, devastate and take, you will not prevail in the end. Yes, you can make us shut our doors and slow down or even close our stores, but you won’t win. You can’t harm our core.

Now, please, move on.

Steve Shriver is founder and CEO of Eco Lips, Inc.

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