Reynolds calls on Congress to pass new COVID-19 relief package

During her press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds encouraged Iowans to continue to get tested and seek out mental-health resources if they need them. She also asked Congress to pass a COVID-19 relief package, saying the state does not have the funds to provide aid on its own.


Katina Zentz

Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during the Condition of the State address at the Iowa State Capitol on Tuesday, January 14, 2020.

Lauren White, Politics Reporter

Gov. Kim Reynolds encouraged Iowans to get mental health help and called on Congress to pass a relief package as the state allocates the final CARES funding dollars to small businesses in the state during her press conference on Tuesday.

Reynolds said that there is not enough state funding for Iowa to send its own relief package and that this is something that Congress needs to come together and pass quickly. She said that the state has used the CARES funding that it has been given and is looking at the final remaining dollars to use as gap funding until a relief package is passed.

Iowa ended Fiscal Year 2020 with a $305 million surplus, Reynolds said in September.

“It’s time for Congress to come together and get a relief package passed for Iowa families and businesses who are suffering and now is not the time for Iowans to let up on mitigation measures,” Reynolds said.

In order to continue to track the virus and ensure Iowans get tested, Reynolds said that the State Hygienic Lab would be doubling their capacity.

“A strong testing strategy is necessary for a strong virus recovery,” Reynolds said.

COVID-19 has affected Iowans in many ways and while the virus is a threat to their physical health, Reynolds said, it also affects mental health. She said that 319 Iowans committed suicide this year which is higher than the last two years. Both adults and adolescents have reported that their mental health has been affected by the pandemic.

Karen Hyatt, Emergency Mental Health Specialist with the Iowa Department of Human Services, said that COVID Recovery Iowa is a federally funded program that provides employment options and mental-health services through three different hotline numbers.

Hyatt said that the goal for the program is to provide Iowans with simple and accessible highly needed mental health resources.

“Everyone has mental-health stress about this and there is no shame in asking for help. I think that is the main message.”

Reynolds said that Iowa could see COVID-19 vaccinations begin to occur before the end of the year and that the state is ready to administer them.

“Now that thanksgiving has passed, case counts will be closely monitored over the next two weeks for any significant rise,” Reynolds said. “We are cautiously optimistic that the current mitigation efforts have decreased the spread of the virus and can get it to a more manageable level.”

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