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GUEST COLUMN: Governor Reynolds’ dereliction of duty

GUEST COLUMN: Governor Reynolds’ dereliction of duty

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Only a modicum of intelligence is needed to examine the facts and realize Gov. Kim Reynolds’ authoritarian approach — ignoring science and health care experts — in managing Iowa’s COVID-19 pandemic is a dismal failure.

According to Dr. Joel Zinberg, Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine (N.Y.), COVID-19 can kill between 0.2% and 0.6% of those infected (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 13). Reynolds’ blatant inaction could result in 6,000-18,000 deceased Iowans.

Donald Trump and the U.S. intelligence community knew of the pandemic on Jan. 3. Since mid-March the administration has relegated the pandemic to governors, resulting in 250,000 American deaths.

Likewise, Reynolds has done little to nothing. On the evening of our recent election she proudly boasted — while acting like a cheerleader — about Iowa turning red. Was she referring to the Republican Party or the blood drawn via embalming 2,000-plus Iowans who died at the peril of COVID-19?

In April, Reynolds signed a $26 million no-bid contract with Utah-based Nomi Health after a sales pitch from Iowa native Ashton Kutcher. TestIowa’s April 21 launch was chaotic and under government oversight investigation.

Reynolds’ StepUpMaskUp campaign was a starter but became hypocritical when she failed to practice what she preached by appearing unmasked in small-to-large political gatherings.

What was Iowans’ return on investment when Dr. Caitlin Pedati, state epidemiologist, received (Aug. 4) a Reynolds-supported $81,734 increase in salary? Answer: Higher COVID-19 confirmed cases (1,700/day), higher hospitalizations (1,500/day) and increased deaths (10/day).

Iowa Falls-based Times Citizen reported the Iowa Department of Public Health purposely backdated COVID-19 data for months. Iowans have been hoodwinked.

Reynolds spent October campaigning for GOP candidates while expressing little-to-no empathy for Iowans afflicted with COVID-19 and our health care providers. Her prioritization of issues speaks volumes.

When many Republicans seeking office touted Iowa as tackling COVID-19 via a “hands-off approach,” they implicitly admitted – along with Reynolds – to ignoring Center for Disease Control and Iowa health care professionals’ recommendations.

Reynolds has ignored multiple (July 26, Aug. 9, Aug. 26, Oct. 4, Nov. 8 and Nov. 15) White House coronavirus task force calls for a mask-wearing mandate and social distancing recommendations and advice from many Iowa medical professionals.

Dr. Eli Perencevich, top infectious disease researcher at the University of Iowa, said “anything less than a statewide mask mandate if you are out of your home with fines, closing bars and indoor restaurants, cancelling all after-school activities, closing schools and banning gatherings outside your family will not be effective in bending the curve and saving our hospitals. It is lipstick on a pig.” (Des Moines Register, Nov. 11).

Reynolds early-November public awareness campaign was eight months late for the families of more than 2,000 deceased Iowans.

Reynolds Nov. 16 coronavirus face mask mitigation measure only applies to restaurants, bars, indoor businesses, malls, playgrounds, children’s play centers and government meetings “if” people are not socially distanced. Schools and houses of worship can do as they so desire. Inconsistent policymaking reigns with Reynolds.

Reynolds’ short-term Nov. 16-Dec. 10 policy of groups meeting 15 or more minutes “should” wear a mask but a 14 or less minute gathering does not “require” masking is laughable and ludicrous — plus it’s unenforceable. Reynolds has rarely displayed long-term strategic or tactical leadership.

Iowa’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate is eight times higher than the national average. Iowa is second in the nation for the percentage of total deaths in or related to long-term care facilities. Iowa is consistently among the top five worse COVID-19 states.

Reynolds needs to oblige the Iowa Board of Health’s Nov. 12 request for a statewide mask mandate and be in compliance with health care and CDC directives.

Iowans deserve no less than a governor who is a true public servant versus a partisan, authoritarian and science- and COVID-19 denier.

Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa and former Denver Board of Education member. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa.

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