TanyaKeith

Where are the community leaders who will protect our kids?

Tanya Keith: Who will step up for my child who is too young to be vaccinated?

Since I wrote last week asking if Governor Reynolds would be willing to put kids’ well-being ahead of politics, I have seen a shift in the order of the universe. So many parents offered words of support, a group of women began organizing a “Safe at School Sit In” for next week, and I started the Facebook group “Iowans for Universal Masks In Schools.”

Iowans did such a great job reaching out to elected leaders that one called me today to ask if they could pass along my contact information to parents who have inundated their office with requests to end the ban on mask mandates. More than 650 people have joined the Facebook group In a little more than 24 hours.

That’s a good start for week 1, but yesterday my son reported that only about 20 percent of the kids at his high school orientation were wearing masks. I recently learned of COVID-19 outbreaks at two Metro Kids Des Moines Public Schools daycare facilities. These things are already happening and school doesn’t start for almost another three weeks.

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Can Governor Reynolds put Iowa kids' well-being ahead of politics?

Concerned parent Tanya Keith reached out to Governor Kim Reynolds’ staff and interviewed infectious disease Dr. Megan Srinivas. -promoted by Laura Belin

Less than a month before school starts, Governor Kim Reynolds is putting politics ahead of my daughter’s life and well-being. I am one of the thousands of Iowa parents bearing the burden of having a child under 12, who is too young to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Anyone following pandemic science updates has been fed a daily diet of rising concern. First, the World Health Organization recommended that all individuals mask inside, even if they are vaccinated. Then the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that all K-12 students be masked, regardless of vaccination status. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control just echoed that guidance.

As an Iowa parent, I know that it is currently against the law for masks to be required at school. If you’re reading this from another state, that may sound bizarre, but I assure you it’s true. In May, Reynolds signed a bill in the middle of the night to ban mask mandates, so schools were left scrambling to come up with new policy days from the finish line of a grueling academic year.

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We must take action now on Iowa's failed COVID-19 response

Tanya Keith is an activist and small business owner in Des Moines. -promoted by Laura Belin

At the beginning of the pandemic, I called my parents and sister in Massachusetts and pleaded with them to move to Iowa. At the time, Massachusetts was having what we considered a raging outbreak, and central Iowa had no confirmed cases. My thinking was they would be so much safer here, because by the time the pandemic reached Iowa, we would know better and therefore do better. I thought my family would be safest here.

But now the tables have turned. Massachusetts has taken science-based action to control the pandemic, and Iowa maintains one of the worst COVID-19 responses in the U.S. (and therefore the world). I haven’t seen my family in over a year, and I can’t imagine how I would safely get to them even if Massachusetts allowed travel from Iowa. Rampant disease spread causes a strain on my business as I try to protect people I hire from working with each other. The school year I most looked forward to: our eldest’s senior year, our middle’s 8th grade, and our youngest’s kindergarten year are all happening remotely.

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A dangerous time in Iowa

Tanya Keith is an activist and small business owner in Des Moines, and author of the recently published Soccer Stars on the Pitch. -promoted by Laura Belin

On Sunday, my son coughed as he was unloading the clean dishes. Thus began my adventure of losing faith in Iowa’s COVID-19 response.

I grabbed the forehead scanner and “beeped” him. Normal. But it gave me pause. With three kids, and kids not presenting with symptoms, I decided to beep all the foreheads in the house. I was normal, the teen was normal, but the preschooler scanned at 100.4 and my husband at 99.9. 

Holding out hope that testing standards had relaxed enough to include all symptomatic Iowans, I called the Urgent Care associated with our doctor’s office. They told me I would need to call the Iowa Department of Public Health’s hotline at 211. So I did.

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All I wanted was to scream at a billionaire

Tanya Keith is a Democratic activist in Des Moines and author of the recently published Soccer Stars on the Pitch. -promoted by Laura Belin

I am the Cory Booker precinct captain for my precinct in the River Bend neighborhood of Des Moines. When I heard he dropped out last Monday morning, I was gutted. Senator Booker was a unique candidate of hope in a sometimes angry field.

I was so firmly in his camp, I told people I didn’t need a second choice, I only needed to work hard to make him viable in my precinct. So after he left the race, I was lost, and I decided to go yell at a billionaire.

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