Guest Columnist

Prichard: Lead by example and promote the common good

Iowa House Minority Leader Todd Prichard delivers his opening remarks during the opening day of the Iowa Legislature, Mo
Iowa House Minority Leader Todd Prichard delivers his opening remarks during the opening day of the Iowa Legislature, Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Years ago while going through a box filled with items belonging to my mother, I found ration books from when she was a girl during World War II. They included basic food items like butter and milk, which were in short supply and needed to be rationed to support the war effort. While I had learned about rationing in school, the concept was so foreign to me that it was surreal to have a tangible piece of history in my hand.

With the crisis we confront today, I’ve thought many times about the uneasy times the war brought to families and our country. The nation’s leaders called on its citizens to ration and do without for the greater good of the nation’s war effort against fascists in Europe and the Pacific. While one can only imagine the stress and public backlash those rations caused, the country stuck together and made it through those trying times.

It is amazing to think how the world has changed since the time of my mother’s youth. However, given today’s global struggle against the pandemic, there are parallels as well. We are called to sacrifice some personal comfort for the sake of the greater good in stopping the spread of a dangerous and unpredictable virus.

At this moment, our health care system is at capacity as hospitals across the state try to cope with record hospitalizations and overburdened health care workers. Thousands of small businesses are struggling to stay open as the virus ravages communities small and large. Too many families that lost income or a job don’t have enough money to put food on the table or pay the rent this month.

We need to do our part to save lives and protect those brave men and women on the front lines who staff our hospitals, care facilities and emergency rooms. We need to do our part to keep those small businesses open. We need to do our part to make sure no kid goes hungry during the holidays.

When session starts again in January, House Democrats are going to lead by example and bring people together to get this pandemic under control. Now third worst in the nation with exploding case numbers and preventable deaths, the public health crisis we face in Iowa is more acute than nearly every other place in the world.

The governor’s COVID response so far has failed to protect our most vulnerable in nursing homes, failed to protect the health and safety of educators and students in our schools, failed to expand testing and contact tracing in all 99 counties, and failed to help small businesses and other employers hit hard by the pandemic.

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Iowans deserve real leadership on this issue, and House Democrats will be working on common-sense, science-based measures to control the spread, keep Iowans safe, and get our economy rolling again.

First, we need to follow the specific recommendations of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. That plan includes an effective mask mandate; proactive and strategic testing in all 99 counties; and ensuring hospitals and nursing homes have tests, PPE, and any other needed equipment to save lives.

Second, we need aggressive plans to help families, businesses, schools, and our dedicated health care workers recover. That should include grants for small businesses impacted by COVID, support for families facing financial hardship, COVID resources for schools, and mental health support for any Iowan who needs it.

Getting control of the pandemic is the quickest way to get live back to normal. We need to show each other and the world that when times are tough, we are willing to rise to occasion.

State Rep. Todd Prichard is the Iowa House minority leader and will be serving his fifth term. Rep. Prichard is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves and currently runs his own law practice in Charles City. todd.prichard@legis.iowa.gov.

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