Flawed assumptions, missing elements in Kim Reynolds' COVID-19 plan

Joe Gorton is a criminology professor at the University of Northern Iowa. -promoted by Laura Belin

During her March 19 press conference, Governor Kim Reynolds presented her social distancing strategy for protecting Iowa from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. Unfortunately, she failed to discuss or even acknowledge any of the significant risks associated with her particular approach.

The purpose of this article is to provide information about the unreported hazards the Reynolds plan incorporates.

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Iowa governor, local officials at odds over shelter-in-place order

Governors of seventeen states have issued shelter-in-place orders to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). But Governor Kim Reynolds again maintained on March 24 that data do not support that action in Iowa. She and top Iowa Department of Public Health officials are betting that closures already in place, along with official efforts to encourage social distancing, will be sufficient to keep serious COVID-19 infections from overwhelming our health care system.

A growing number of local leaders disagree.

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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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Iowa Democrats postpone county conventions; No changes at legislature

UPDATE: The Iowa legislature on March 16 suspended the 2020 session for at least 30 days. The Iowa Democratic Party sent guidance to county chairs the State Central Committee on March 23 on conducting county conventions “using an absentee system.” I’ve enclosed that document at the end of this post.

The Iowa Democratic Party is postponing county conventions scheduled for March 21 “to a future date to be determined,” the party announced today.

But for now, leaders of the Iowa legislature have no plans to pause activities at the state Capitol. They should reconsider.

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Planned Parenthood on track to receive sex ed grants

Two Iowa state agencies announced on May 31 an intent to award Planned Parenthood of the Heartland sex education grants for the fiscal year beginning on July 1.

Republican lawmakers approved and Governor Kim Reynolds signed legislation seeking to deny Planned Parenthood access to the federally-funded Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Services Program (CAPP) and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) grants. However, a Polk County District Court put that provision on hold this week, saying Planned Parenthood was “likely to succeed on the merits of its equal protection claim” under the Iowa Constitution.

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Exclusive: Two health giants block Iowans from medical cannabis program

Doctors affiliated with Mercy Cedar Rapids and The Iowa Clinic are refusing to sign paperwork their patients need to register for the Iowa Department of Public Health’s medical cannabis program. Iowa law requires applicants to obtain their doctor’s signature attesting that the patient has a “qualifying debilitating medical condition.” But the law stipulates that health care practitioners have “no duty to provide” written confirmation of the patient’s diagnosis.

Mercy Cedar Rapids appears to have instructed its 503 physicians not to sign the IDPH paperwork, according to two sources with qualifying conditions, who receive health care at different facilities in that network. Most if not all of the 250-plus health care providers at The Iowa Clinic, a doctor-owned group in the Des Moines area, are also refusing to sign medical cannabis card applications.

Without cooperation from a primary care provider, Iowans cannot start the process of receiving authorization to use cannabidiol legally. The number of patients affected by their health care group’s policies is unknown but potentially large. Mercy Cedar Rapids handled 451,400 outpatient visits last year at offices around Iowa’s second largest metro area. The Iowa Clinic averages 450,000 visits annually, serving about 148,000 unique patients across its central Iowa locations.

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