Des Moines Register. April 8, 2020

The working people of Iowa are the true heroes of the great plague of 2020

When we get through this, it won’t be due to the sacrifices of the rich, but to the dedication of working stiffs who showed up and clocked in day after day

Iowans able to work from home right now should feel fortunate. That includes most of us at The Des Moines Register. Sheltering in place is doable when you can continue to earn a living with a computer and cell phone from your living room or kitchen. Life is different, but disruptions are fairly minimal.

Our trash is picked up. Our mail is delivered. We may venture out in our cars to pick up hamburgers at a drive-thru restaurant. With a few clicks of the mouse, pizza and groceries will be delivered to our front porches.

All that is made possible by the thousands of Iowans who continue to report to work in person each day.

Our cupboards would be bare by now if it weren’t for workers who risk exposure to Covid-19 to keep the grocery shelves stocked. The same goes for the truck drivers who deliver food to stores, the factory workers who process it and the farm workers and growers who supply it.

Then there are the power plant operators who keep the electricity flowing, the waterworks employees who keep clean drinking water coming, the postal workers who bring the mail like clockwork every day, the UPS workers delivering goods ordered online, the pharmacists filling our prescriptions, the technicians fixing internet problems.

Not to mention the front-line health care cadres. On Tuesday, a state public health official said more than 20% of the Iowans who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been health care workers.

These and millions of working people like them are the heroes of the great plague of 2020.

If we get though this, it won’t be due to the sacrifices of the rich and the favored. It will be thanks to lots of working stiffs, many of them underappreciated and toiling for low wages.

This country has treated its working people shabbily in recent decades, denying them a fair share of the wealth their labor creates. Too many do not earn living wages or have health insurance, sick leave or retirement savings.

Yet in this time of crisis, they have stepped up to rescue the country. Their work in the face of the virus enables the semblance of a functioning economy to be maintained. They provide not only goods and services that allow many of us to remain safer, but also comfort, which is critical in trying to keep stress and panic at bay.

For now, we should tip them generously. We should tell them — through the glass of a front door or car window — that we are grateful. We should recognize they may fear not only for their own health but also for those they go home to each day. That may include a parent with diabetes or a daughter with asthma or a wife with cancer.

Each of us is only as quarantined as the people we live with.

Working people have always been the bedrock of this country’s economy. Now they are literally keeping the country running.

When the crisis is over, they will be owed a great debt of thanks. It can best be paid by finally making their well-being the focus of national policies and attention.


Dubuque Telegraph Herald. April 8, 2020

States must prepare for disrupted elections

Iowa’s primary is less than eight weeks away, and the state must be prepared for an election that looks different than other elections.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, nothing is business as usual.

When government offices, public buildings and schools are closed, public gatherings are prohibited and businesses are struggling to function, it’s hard to imagine life will be back to normal by June 2. Instead, Iowa officials must plan for a voting process that relies less on public sites and groups of people sharing public spaces.

Failure to plan for a worst case scenario could be perilous for Iowa. One has only to look northeast to see how that works out.

Just 19 hours before primary voting was to get under way in Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers issued a last-minute order prohibiting in-person voting and pushing voting out until June 9.

In a matter of minutes, Republican legislative leaders asked the state Supreme Court to block the order, saying Evers didn’t have the legal authority to postpone the election. At day’s end Monday, the High Court did just that.

All that left voters and poll workers in a quandary about whether or not they should leave home to go to voting sites. With the troubling news of the day, it’s unfortunate citizens have to be nervous about exercising their Constitutional right. But that’s exactly what failed planning did in Wisconsin.

In Ohio, a court overturned a legislative attempt to push back the March primary to June. Then the state’s health director declared a public health emergency and shut down polls that way.

States must learn from these 11th-hour battles and better prepare for upcoming primaries and the fall general election.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced last week that every voter will get an absentee ballot request form ahead of the June 2 primary. For now, Iowa’s primary is scheduled to go forward as planned, but Pate has suggested everyone vote by mail to reduce the spread of the virus. He even extended the early voting period for mailed ballots to 40 days.

Every state should be making similar arrangements for upcoming primaries and the November general election — just in case. That should include online voter registration. If we can have work meetings and consult with doctors and teach kids electronically, surely everyone should be able to register to vote that way.

In early February, most Iowans thought the difficulty in getting results from the Iowa Caucus would be the weirdest thing to happen in 2020 elections. Elections officials must take these weeks and months to prepare to execute voting even in dire circumstances, now that we have glimpsed the unthinkable.


Fort Dodge Messenger. April 10, 2020

Elanco Animal Health steps up to fight COVID-19

Company donates material needed for accurate tests

The Community Health Center of Fort Dodge recently received a needed assist in the fight against COVID-19 from a special source: Elanco Animal Health.

Elanco, which has a sprawling research and production facility on the northwest side of Fort Dodge, gave the health center about 1,000 vials full of a substance called viral transport media. Viral transport media isn’t medicine. It is a preservative that keeps viruses active. Keeping viruses active may seem like a particularly bad idea lately. But in the fight against the coronavirus, there is a reason for doing so. When a health care provider at the center conducts a test for COVID-19, the sample they collect is placed in the viral transport media to be sent to a lab. If the virus is present in that sample, the viral transport media will preserve it, helping to ensure an accurate test result.

Obtaining good test results that will show who is infected and who is not is key to fighting COVID-19.

Renae Kruckenberg, the chief executive officer of the Community Health Center of Fort Dodge, described the viral transport media as ”the key component” that was missing. She said the shortage of the material forced the center’s staff to be even more selective when deciding who to test for the virus.

Kruckenberg decided to ask the staff at Elanco Animal Health if they could provide some viral transport media to the center. She wasn’t at all sure the company could help.

The company certainly did help, delivering about 1,000 vials of the material.

Elanco Animal Health came through, using employee time and materials to make all that viral transport media. The company didn’t make a dime doing so. It did, however, make a difference in the care of patients at the Community Health Center of Fort Dodge. We thank the company for stepping forward to serve its neighbors during this pandemic.