Staff Editorial

Iowa needs to work with its Midwestern neighbors

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference at the State Em
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds updates the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak during a news conference at the State Emergency Operations Center, Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Johnston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, pool)

On April 15, a group of Midwest governors announced that they were forming a coalition to coordinate on reopening their states, once the pandemic ebbs. The governors are Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

The group is bipartisan. But what they do have in common is that each state in the coalition currently has a stay-at-home order. Iowa doesn’t have a stay-at-home order and isn’t in the group.

When pressed on why Iowa was not in the coalition, Gov. Kim Reynolds said that she was in conversation with Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts weekly and also has had conversations with the governors of North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. It’s a non-answer kind of answer. While, those are good governors to have conversations with, they aren’t the governors of the states surrounding us.

There is no reason, besides an ideological one for Iowa not to be in that coalition.

Absent a coherent or coordinated federal response, states have been left to themselves to protect their citizens and work together on their approach to the global pandemic.

California and Washington have formed a coalition. In the Northeast, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island are also working together to form a coordinated response to reopening their states.

Pritzker had said that Iowa was invited, but there is no clarity on why Iowa declined to join.

Iowa has economic ties to the state of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The University of Iowa sees a huge influx of student population from the Chicagoland area. Two of the Quad Cities are on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, which connects to Iowa’s watershed and has also seen significant flooding in recent years.

Additionally, the number of Iowans traveling to Minneapolis, Chicago, and Madison — for business and pleasure — is significant. Flights to most cities in Eastern Iowa connect through Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Dallas. Not Omaha or Cheyenne.

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While each state has different variables and challenges in its recovery from COVID-19, working with the Midwest governors from Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin is necessary to any sort of conversation about reopening our economy.

Reynolds must work with all bordering states, regardless of which regional alliance they’re part of.

Iowa’s absence from the coalition doesn’t speak well to our ability to be a good neighbor or to work with other states. But our coordination and collaboration is necessary if we want to protect the lives of Iowans.

(319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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