Des Moines Register. Nov. 8

Reynolds can increase Iowans’ COVID-19 awareness by news conferences showing the public the toll every day

Editorial: Guest speakers could include the family members and friends of the deceased. There are thousands of them. And without serious intervention, there will be thousands more.

Iowa is a COVID-19 disaster.

This past week, the disaster got even worse.

On Friday at 10 a.m., the Iowa Department of Public Health reported a record 912 hospitalizations from COVID-19 and 3,533 new cases of the illness in the previous 24 hours. The day before, Iowa set a 24-hour record of 4,562 new virus cases. The agency on Friday also reported a total of 1,815 COVID-related deaths.

In less than eight months, more Iowans have died from COVID-19 than died from leukemia, breast cancer, car accidents, flu and pneumonia combined in all of 2019.

On Thursday, an hour after media did its daily parsing and reporting of the state’s coronavirus data, Gov. Kim Reynolds held her first formal news conference in a month about the virus.

She felt compelled to speculate that the results of the Nov. 3 election, in which Iowans overwhelmingly supported Republican candidates, were a “validation of our balanced COVID-19” response.

That is debatable.

The state “response” to COVID-19 has been pretty much crafted by the Reynolds administration. Not the Iowa Legislature. Not Congress. And Reynolds was not on the general election ballot. In a mid-September Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll, more Iowans disapproved of the job Reynolds has done to address the pandemic (47%) than approved (44%), a 15-percentage-point drop in her pandemic approval rating since a June Iowa Poll, So it’s difficult to believe voters were affirming her actions the past several months.

It’s also true that counties across the country that overwhelmingly supported President Donald Trump also are experiencing the most severe coronavirus outbreaks, according to the Associated Press.

The governor did send the right message in her news conference. She asked Iowans to make every effort to reduce spread of the virus and think carefully about gathering for the holidays.

She was joined by two hospital leaders who essentially begged the public to wear masks and distance from others to try to reduce viral transmission and save lives. Health care workers are physically and mentally exhausted, they said.

Iowa must “get this pandemic under control,” said Dr. David Williams, the chief clinical officer for UnityPoint Health. “We’ve been spending eight months taking care of you, taking care of your family, taking care of your friends. My plea to everybody watching this today: Take care of my family. It’s time to take care of the health care workers.”

What one wishes Williams had done: Turned to Reynolds on live television and begged her to issue a mask mandate. Because the best way for all of us to help Iowa’s health care workers is to avoid contracting the virus.

But Reynolds has made it clear she will not issue a mask mandate.

She went on to herald access to testing in this state. And she deserves credit for helping ensure testing is available. But testing doesn’t prevent people from contracting the virus. And she offered no new mitigation efforts to reduce spread.

She also announced a state-led public awareness campaign.

OK. But if Reynolds really wants to get the message out about the importance of Iowans taking this virus seriously, she should hold near-daily news conferences. That certainly seems warranted when dozens of Iowans are dying each week.

She could herself announce case and death numbers the way she did early in the epidemic. Media from across the state would be present to ensure her message was heard. She could provide details about Iowans who have died. Her guest speakers could include the family members and friends of the deceased. There are thousands and thousands of people she could invite.

And without massive changes in public behavior, there will be thousands more.


Quad City Times. Nov. 8

Tune in soon.

The Scott County Board of Supervisors recently voted to put videos of their meetings online, joining most other local governments in the Quad-Cities in this basic step toward transparency.

This has been a long time coming. Two years ago, we urged the board to do this.

Unfortunately, the board dawdled. Big cost estimates have been thrown around, and doubts were expressed about whether such a step was even necessary.

It even became an election issue, as people like Supervisor Ken Croken pushed for the idea.

The logjam was broken recently when the board voted to spend about $50,000 to make this happen.

Matt Hirst, director of information technology for the county, told us the goal is to have this service online this month. In addition to watching the meetings live, there will be an archive of meeting videos.

We’ve always had a lot of respect for Scott County. Usually, it’s been responsive to information requests that we’ve made over the years. So, it has been a bit bewildering that it took so long to take this step. It’s not as if this is a cutting-edge idea or technology. Governments in this area, and all across the country, are doing this.

We don’t know how many people will tune into these meetings. As longtime observers of the board, we know this is one government that typically draws fewer people to their meetings than other governments in this area. Some claim this is because of the committee-of-the-whole’s 8 a.m. meeting time. We expect that debate to continue.

Regardless, we have always believed that giving constituents the chance to watch their elected leaders in action — and to do it in a way that fits their lifestyle and not the convenience of elected leaders — is not a frill but a basic government obligation.

We hope that, as more people see this as an option, they will tune in. But whether they do or don’t isn’t really the question. What matters is it is available.

We are happy to see the board has taken this step. We look forward to watching.


Fort Dodge Messenger. Nov. 6

In Fort Dodge, those who do not have health insurance have an option for getting high quality medical care.

It’s called the Community Health Center of Fort Dodge and it offers medical, dental and behavioral health care, with all fees based on a person’s ability to pay. It opened in 2006 and has been a key source of care for thousands of area residents since then.

A chance for everyone to support the Community Health Center that helps so many of our neighbors is now getting started.

The center is hosting a COVID era version of a masquerade ball. It’s called the virtual ”mask”erade fundraiser. It begins today and will continue through Nov. 13.

A raffle featuring prizes like a $2,500 Visa gift card, a family photo package and grocery gift cards from local supermarkets is a key part of the fundraiser. Raffle tickets cost $25 each or $100 for five of them. They can be purchased at Shimkat Motor Co., 3126 Fifth Ave. S., or from health center employees.

Another big part of the fundraiser is an online auction which begins at 8 a.m. today and runs through Nov. 13. To participate, go to Auction items will be on display at Shimkat Motor Co.

Since this is a ”mask” erade fundraiser, there will be a mask photo contest. Mask photos can be uploaded to the event’s Facebook page and will be judged by health center staff member. Three winners will receive a $25 gift card.

This event will allow people to have some fun with the mask contest and maybe win some special items during the raffle and auction. But most importantly, it will generate some money to ensure that the Community Health Center of Fort Dodge can keep on caring for people whatever their financial or insurance status may be.