Gov. Kim Reynolds is leading Iowa in the wrong direction into a long winter.
Reynolds this week welcomed President Donald Trump to Des Moines for a campaign event, even as the governor refuses to take lifesaving advice from the Trump administration about how to manage the coronavirus pandemic.
Many of Iowa’s COVID-19 deaths, now more than 1,500, were preventable, according to a White House Coronavirus Task Force report published last week. Most Iowa counties are classified as having high or moderate community spread.
The prolonged onslaught of death and disease threatens to dull the shock of Iowa’s ever-growing pandemic figures, but we must not ignore them. The day of Trump’s rally, Iowa reported a record-high 473 coronavirus hospitalizations, including an unprecedented 74 admitted in the previous 24 hours.
Defying federal recommendations, Reynolds is one of only two governors in the nation who hasn’t issued a statewide mask mandate and who refuses to honor mandates imposed by mayors, city councils and county boards.
Not only that, but she doesn’t model good behavior for Iowans. The governor has been spotted maskless at political events while she was in close contact with other people.
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It will get worse before it gets better. Cold weather will push people indoors, where the virus is more easily transmitted. We also are entering the traditional flu season.
In an interview recorded Wednesday for The Gazette’s Iowa Ideas conference, Reynolds defended her pandemic response with the same talking points she’s used for several months: “It goes back to the same thing we’ve said from the very beginning … stay home when you’re sick, wash your hands often, social distance, if you can’t, wear a face covering.”
Yet the governor pals around with a president who famously did not stay home when he was sick, and does not wear a face covering. Trump supporters on Wednesday did not practice social distancing, despite the governor’s order for people at large gatherings to do so. Mask usage appeared higher than at previous Trump events, but still less than half.
Trump’s stop at the airport in Des Moines came less than two weeks after he announced he tested positive for COVID-19, which officials may have passed around during an outdoor event at the White House. Attendees at the Trump rally agreed to liability waivers stating they “understand and expressly acknowledge that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present.”
It is dangerously irresponsible to attend a large event in a state with an unchecked infectious disease pandemic. Reynolds’ answer for everything is for Iowans to “do the right thing,” but she can’t be bothered to do right herself.
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