Gov Kim Reynolds on Iowa’s response plan to COVID-19: ‘This isn’t political’

In her press conference on Monday, Gov. Kim Reynolds defended her decision to reopen parts of the state, which is a part of the second phase of a three-phase COVID-19 response plan, Reynolds said. Reynolds did not say what the third phase of the state's response plan will be.


Katina Zentz

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol on Jan. 14.

Lauren White, News Reporter

Gov. Kim Reynolds rejected the notion that the state’s COVID-19 response has been based on political decisions, despite many Iowa Democrats disagreeing with Reynolds’ decision to not issue a shelter-in-place and to reopen parts of the state.

Reynolds said during her daily press conference on Monday that her response has been about receiving recommendations from those she trusts, but did not follow the recommendations in a recent report from University of Iowa researchers, warning that breaking social distancing guidelines could likely result in a second wave of infections. 

“This isn’t political,” Reynolds said.  “That’s part of the reason why I am able to stand here everyday and talk to Iowans and make decisions based on data and metrics, based on the expertise that I have working for the citizens of Iowa.”

Reynolds said that the state’s response to COVID-19 will be in three parts, and the state is currently in phase two. The first phase focussed on flattening the curve by closing all nonessential businesses like restaurants and salons. The next phase was to ease many mitigation efforts and instead highlight containment and management of the virus in certain parts of the state, with the addition of slowly reopening businesses, or the phase Iowa is in now. This phase was originally made to last until May 15, and throughout this week, Reynolds said, her team will be looking into where to go from here. 

Reynolds declared this week to be Public Service Recognition Week, a time to set aside and honor those who work as federal, state, and local government employees. 

“This year it is especially fitting to recognize the employees of our state agencies, many of whom are serving on the front lines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Reynolds said. 

An example of how state and local entities have worked together amid COVID-19, Reynolds said the strike teams, nurses from the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS), and the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals have conducted surveillance testing among essential workers. These tests not only mitigate the spread of the virus, but assure workers that their workplace is safe. 

A positive case at the Woodward Resource Center means the first case in any of the six state DHS facilities. That number has since risen to nine employees and six residents in IDHS facilities. 

Kelly Garcia, Director of the IDHS, said that before there were any confirmed positive cases in Iowa, the DHS had begun analysing operations across the agency, focussing much of the preparedness and response efforts on the state DHS facilities.

“Throughout this pandemic, I’ve talked with facility leadership twice daily. Not dissimilar to long-term care facilities, our staff are in close contact with some of Iowa’s most vulnerable individuals and we have undertaken significant efforts to keep everyone safe,” Garcia said. 

Reynolds also made a claim that substance abuse and food insecurity in the state has spiked. Reynolds’ office did not immediately get back to The Daily Iowan’s request for a source.

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