Staff Editorial

On COVID-19, Reynolds displays deadly lack of leadership

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in Cedar Rapids. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in Cedar Rapids. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

By the middle of this week, more than 600 Iowans were hospitalized with COVID-19, a record that breaks almost daily as more and more Iowans get sick.

More than 1,600 Iowans have died of the virus, including 33 more reported on Wednesday and Thursday. Cases and deaths are climbing steadily as the pandemic continues its uncontrolled spread across Iowa.

The lack of leadership shown by Gov. Kim Reynolds in recent weeks — going weeks without televised news conferences and not detailing plans of how we’ll fight the virus amid the challenges of an Iowa winter — is profoundly disturbing. Protecting the health and safety of all Iowans should be the highest priority.

Reynolds repeatedly rejects the notion of ordering any large-scale public health measures to slow the statewide spread. She’s rejected a face covering mandate, for example, while allowing large gatherings. Testing rates still remain far too low to control the virus and too few contract tracers are on the job to track cases. She’s rejected the recommendations of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, which has been sounding the alarm for months about Iowa’s deteriorating situation.

Reynolds instead talks often about using “targeted” measures, but it’s a sound bite, not an actual policy being carried out in any meaningful way. The state is now full of COVID targets but measures are sorely lacking.

So it seems clear winter will bring more cases and deaths. The holidays will bring more heartbreaking family separations and traditions will be replaced by cancellations. Brick-and-mortar retailers, restaurants and other businesses that depend on holiday revenue will face another season of lost sales.

Our economy can’t fully recover until the virus is controlled. A vaccine still is months away, with an even longer wait likely before mass immunizations are possible.

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COVID-19 is a long-term fight that is creating global change. While many Iowans are tired of its impacts, many also recognize the challenges and sacrifices to this point will be for naught if the collective attention focuses elsewhere.

The governor insists we must live with the virus, but that shouldn’t mean simply ignoring the pandemic, shrugging at the alarming numbers and abandoning efforts to protect Iowans’ health and lives. Graphs depicting new cases and deaths steadily increasing also show the high costs of a growing mountain of inaction and excuses.

We need real leadership. The governor isn’t providing it. Maybe it will come from a new Legislature. Maybe it will come from a new president. But if it doesn’t come from someplace, many more Iowans will get sick and more Iowans will die.

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

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