Fort Dodge Messenger. April 3, 2020

Pets bring great joy, great responsibility

Potential owners of dogs, cats must be aware as they consider adopting

When last seen, an orange cat with the unlikely name of Raven was at the Almost Home Humane Society of North Central Iowa, awaiting a chance for a real home.

The Fort Dodge animal shelter is closed to visitors, but Raven and all of the other dogs and cats in the facility at 725 S. 32nd St. are still available for adoption.

Now that the coronavirus pandemic has closed schools and forced lots of people to stay home, having a furry friend to play with may sound pretty enticing to many.

In fact, there may be some merit to adopting a pet at this time. With lots of people at home, the new cat or dog will get loads of attention and may settle into the household faster.

Pets, however, are not some kind of novelty to entertain people while a global pandemic is forcing them to stay home. They are living, breathing four-legged members of the family. They need food, care and exercise. Dogs need to be walked. Litter boxes need to be cleaned out. There are bills to be paid for pet food and veterinary care.

Responsible pet owners know that the care and feeding of an animal is a small price to pay for the companionship and joy that a dog or cat brings to their lives.

We think anyone who is serious about adopting a dog or a cat now, or at any time for that matter, should do it. Visit www.almosthomeiowa.org or call (515) 955-8343 to learn more about the available animals and the adoption process. Bringing home a pet may be one of the best moves a person can make in life.

Potential pet owners just need to be aware that they are shouldering a lot of responsibility when they do adopt a cat or dog.

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Quad City Times. April 4, , 2020

Reynolds in a lonely spot.

Across the country, state governments have steadily ramped up their orders restricting the movement of people in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Thursday, according to USA Today, at least 38 states had put in place some form of “stay at home order.” As of this writing Friday afternoon, Iowa was not one of them.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has rejected such an order at this time, even as she has urged Iowans to limit their contact with one another. She and public health officials say they are constantly monitoring several metrics. And already she has ordered such steps as closing indoor service at bars and restaurants and limiting social and other gatherings of 10 or more people, among other steps. On Thursday, she extended the public health emergency until April 30, which includes the closure of all state schools.

Still, there is a growing chorus of Iowans who are calling on the governor to do more; to do what most other states, including Illinois, have done and issue a “stay at home” order.

Reynolds has argued what she’s done is much the same as other states that have put these orders in place, and that such an order could affect the supply chain.

How our public leaders communicate the need to stay home and limit their contact with others matters. To her credit, the governor has said the state’s residents should not go out except for essential trips. But there is no doubt a mandatory order from the state telling people to shelter in their homes would have an additional impact.

Late this week, the governor and her advisers provided a more detailed look at the metrics they’re using and where each region stands on a 12-point scale, with 10 points being the threshold at which a “shelter in place” step would be triggered.

As of Thursday, the region that included the Iowa Quad-Cities was at a 7.

The metrics they’re considering include the percentage of COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization, the rate of infection over the previous 14 days, the percentage of the state’s population over 65, and the number of outbreaks at long-term care facilities.

We understand the governor’s approach, and we respect that she is urging people to fight the spread of this virus. But as a border community, we also have had an opportunity to see how her approach looks different from that of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Pritzker issued a stay at home order two weeks ago. On Thursday, he launched a promotional campaign to reinforce the message.

We can’t say that one approach is leading to less interaction than the other. But But there is a difference in the message that is being conveyed. In Illinois, there is a mandate that people stay home except for certain essential activities. In Iowa, there is no such order.

This comes as recent death toll estimates have rattled the public. A report by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research center at the University of Washington’s medical school, estimated this week that 1,367 Iowans will die from the virus by August 4. And that was up from the day before. The institute noted that Iowa had no stay at home order in place. The governor said this week the institute’s study is flawed — and it is true its web page suggested Iowa hadn’t closed schools or non-essential businesses, which we know not to be the case.

Still, this estimate (which come from a study the White House has cited) is frightening to a lot of Iowans.

We think the governor and her advisers took a good step this week to shed more light on what information they are using and how it is guiding their mitigation strategies.

Still, there are questions. Among ours: Why were these specific measures picked? What other metrics were considered, and if they were rejected, why?

We think the governor and her staff would be wise to continue explaining this decision, and in more detail. It is clear to us that, from the feedback we are getting and in news reports, many Iowans believe she is making the wrong choice. We have our own concerns.

We do know this: On this question, Gov. Reynolds is in a lonely spot.

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Dubuque Telegraph Herald. April 5, 2020

Gov. Reynolds must call for shelter at home.

Following what our tri-state neighbors have been doing for more than a week, it’s time for Iowans to shelter at home.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has been reluctant to give the order to drastically limit the movement of citizens in the state. Reynolds says she is basing her decision on data and has, to this point, not seen a “shelter in place” or “stay at home” order as a necessary mitigation measure for Iowa.

Health care experts disagree.

The Iowa Board of Medicine voted unanimously Friday to request that the governor move to a shelter-in-place order.

Such orders have become commonplace, with at least 38 states, 48 counties, 14 cities, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all urging residents to stay at home. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order in effect from March 21 until at least April 30. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers issued a “Safer at Home” order that prohibits all nonessential travel, in effect from March 25 until at least April 24.

Both orders allow residents to leave the house for essential tasks such as medical appointments or getting food or medicine. People are allowed to run or walk outside as long as they practice social distancing. By and large, though, people are asked to just stay at home.

Reynolds and her team note that there is no one firm definition of the stay-home orders that others have adopted, and she already has placed restrictions on the kinds of businesses allowed to operate and pushed schools to close.

Still, there is something about an order coming from the governor of the state telling people to stay at home that will get citizens’ attention.

By not making this order, Reynolds seems to be communicating that things in Iowa are different than they are in Illinois, and Wisconsin, and the 36 other states. But this virus is not discerning of state borders. It can spread the same way in Iowa. It can ravage the same way. It can kill the same way.

When this crisis is past, few decision-makers will be saying, “I reacted too quickly.” More likely, many will regret not acting sooner.

It is past time for Iowans to hunker down.

The peak, as predicted by University of Washington research, could come between April 30 and May 3, when COVID-19 could be claiming the lives of 45 Iowans per day. What could alter that model and stave off worst-case scenarios, both local and national experts agree, would be more stringent social distancing measures.

So, why wait?

At this juncture, Reynolds just recently announced the closure of schools to continue through April 30. If the models are close to correct, students surely will not be headed back to the classroom on May 1.

Dubuque-area health care leaders have formed a united front and speak with one voice on what they see as their most pressing concern today: More people need to stay home to stem the spread of the virus.

City of Dubuque and Dubuque County officials both considered calling for a shelter-in-place order, but state law does not grant cities and counties such authority.

It can only come from Reynolds.

For the sake of all Iowans, it must come soon.

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