The coronavirus continues to spread in Iowa with new cases and more deaths confirmed every day – and our governor is not effectively corralling all of her powers to fight it.
This escalating, deadly reality began unfolding in our state more than a month ago just as global epidemiologists said it would, and Gov. Kim Reynolds’ decisions and messaging still have not caught up to the challenges Iowa is facing. She has consistently underplayed the cards available to her while articulating a message that, much like our president’s, has lacked the forthright clarity that good crisis management demands.
She has said that not everyone who feels sick needs to be tested, downplaying the need for testing when she should have been telling us the truth, that there simply are not enough tests to meet our state’s needs.
It’s time for her to catch up. It’s time for her to stop talking about metrics as she explains why she isn’t doing the things scientific experts have urged. It’s time for her to use straight forward language to tell Iowans that if they are not part of an essential industry, they must stay home.
As the virus continues to spread, Reynolds is wasting time talking about how she has broken the state into six regions and that she is monitoring each region independently to decide if she should put that specific area under a stay-at-home order.
Her strategy assumes that if there is not a big enough outbreak in a certain area, then that area does not need to be locked down. It assumes that people won’t travel from one region to another – sometimes just over a nearby county line – a ridiculous notion given the boundaries of these regions are arbitrary to those who live within them.
It’s as if she has learned nothing from what has happened elsewhere as the virus has easily outflanked tepid efforts to corral it. Iowa is standing nearly alone as one of the few remaining states to not have officially issued a stay-at-home order in plain language.
Reynolds’ strategy, in practice, is to wait for the deadly contagion to establish itself in a big way, then fight it – a terrible approach for a state that is now running low on the supplies medical workers need as they try to save the infected.
Reynolds should have enough information by now to understand that the only way to beat this virus is to get ahead of it in the few locations where we still can.
A statewide stay-at-home order without a short-term expiration date is the best we can do now. It would further slow the virus where it already exists, possibly prevent it from spreading to where it’s not, and without a doubt, provide the most expedient way to eventually get everyone back to work.