Guest Columnist

Dear Gov. Reynolds: We're dying out here

An open letter from a public school teacher to Gov. Kim Reynolds

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a press conference at Iowa PBS, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. As th
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a press conference at Iowa PBS, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the state, Reynolds ordered bars closed in six Iowa counties with the highest number of cases. (Brian Powers/The Des Moines Register via AP)

We’re dying out here.

This is not a figure of speech. We are, literally, dying out here.

It is time for you to make some tough decisions, and to finally and at last “prioritize lives over livelihoods.”

Our state is in crisis. We are going to collapse under the weight — of an overburdened medical system and burnt-out health care workers; of teachers doing the equivalent of two jobs simultaneously for the pay of one; of families who will be forced to choose to risk their lives over the holidays or spend them alone; of businesses trying to choose between staying afloat and supporting the safety of their communities.

Enough, governor. Lead or get out of the way.

The state of Iowa needs to prioritize the health and safety of its citizens. That is the primary function of government. If you want schools open, you are going to need to close other things — no indoor dining, no bars, no gatherings of more than 10 people. Choices have to be made.

You can take some of those $21 million of misappropriated COVID funds to provide assistance to businesses that will be required to close. Instead of paying your already grossly overpaid and underqualified COVID team overtime, you could funnel those funds to the landlords who have to choose between evictions and mortgage payments, to the small businesses who have to choose between paying staff, and paying light bills.

Enough.

If I am willing to accept your mad proposition that schools should remain open above all — Fine. I’ll be a front-line worker for both your unregulated bullets and your unmitigated pandemic. But if I am willing to do that, then you need to close down everything else and make it financially feasible for people to survive. Not forever. Not indefinitely. Try a month. Try a month of an enforceable mask mandate and lockdown. Just try it.

At this point, what have we got to lose? Our lives? Our livelihoods? They are both already in critical danger because of your actions and inaction. Because of your failure of leadership. Because of your malignant refusal to face truths with courage, integrity and the greater good in mind

Enough, governor. Enough.

Michelle Bacon Curry of Iowa City is a public school teacher.

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