It’s been just a year since Gov. Kim Reynolds’ administration set up a fake real estate office in Manhattan, hoping to lure New Yorkers to Iowa with the promise of cheap housing.
“This is Iowa” was the theme. Hip young urbanites were shown spacious homes at prices a mere fraction of what they’d pay in the New York metro. Yards! Mudrooms!
We’re not just flyover country.
It turns out, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we’re also not fly-out country, at least to New York.
On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged travelers from a list of states, including Iowa, to self-quarantine for 14 days if they travel to New York. And it’s not to keep us from luring away his constituents with affordable real estate.
It’s because Iowa is among 16 states where the spread of COVID-19 is not under control, with a positive test rate of more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents. New York didn’t go through coronavirus hell and back to allow some out-of-state travelers to spark a resurgence in new cases.
It’s true, Iowa isn’t Texas or Florida, where caseloads are setting records and medical resources are being stretched to the limit. Deaths and hospitalizations have declined here and we’re doing more testing, Gov. Kim Reynolds, among others, is quick to point out.
But as The Des Moines Register reported Tuesday morning, 28 Iowa counties saw new highs in the average number of daily cases this past week. Counties including Johnson, Story and Scott have seen case spikes. The state’s seven-day average of new cases is rising.
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No, we’re not Florida or Texas. But the notion that we can’t see our own steep climb in cases is magical thinking. And that’s what we’ve been getting from state leaders.
Ideally, we would have left a full range of precautions and closings in place until we saw a solid, steady decline in new cases. Instead, we began to reopen the state as cases were peaking.
I’ve heard from many scolding readers who argue leaving strong measures in place would destroy the economy. It was a risk. But what have we put at risk now?
Businesses in counties seeing case spikes have been forced to re-close. The Gazette’s Vanessa Miller reported this week that the University of Iowa’s housing contract for the fall includes a clause relieving them from liability if a student gets COVID-19 in the dorms.
That’s hardly a positive message for the upcoming school year. Much like the Iowa Department of Education guidance for schools, which does not recommend requiring students to wear face coverings. An ambiguous “clarification” issued this week leaves districts guessing.
Team Reynolds won’t require anyone to wear face coverings, even as health experts say they’re an important tool to curtail virus spread. It’s true enforcing such a rule would be difficult, if not impossible, but leaders set the tone. And the tone Reynolds has set in recent weeks is that this is no longer a big deal. Go about business as usual.
But imagine what we lose if it turns out our kids can’t go back to school and universities can’t get back to in-person business this fall. The economic and educational consequences are massive.
The folks who brought us cheap fake real estate may have sold us an costly fake recovery.
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