A new poll out this morning shows Iowans back paid sick leave for workers during the coronavirus crisis by a large majority. Public Policy Polling found 65% of Iowans support “paid sick leave for workers impacted by the coronavirus, even if it means your taxes increasing by a few hundred dollars a year.” Just 16% oppose it.
The poll, which surveyed 1,030 Iowa voters from March 16 to 17 and was commissioned by the progressive Iowa Voices organization, appears to be the first to question Iowans about the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Donald Trump could face some consequences with Iowa voters for his handling of the CDC before the outbreak. When asked if they supported Trump proposing to cut the CDC budget earlier this year and his firing of the CDC’s pandemic response team, 56% disapproved, while 25% approved.
Trump has proposed cuts to the CDC in every one of his budgets, though Congress has allocated increased funding to it anyway, even as some Republicans voted against appropriations bills including CDC funds.
Overall, it appears that Iowans are taking the pandemic seriously. The survey had 47% of Iowans saying they were “very concerned” about the coronavirus outbreak, while 38% said they were “somewhat concerned.” Only 12% were “not that concerned” and 3% were “not concerned at all.”
Last week, Congress passed a coronavirus relief package that included paid sick leave for employees of businesses with less than 500 workers (businesses of less than 50 could also apply for an exemption). For those it did cover, workers are guaranteed ten days of paid sick leave during the coronavirus crisis.
However, before the bill passed, Senate Republicans made a failed attempt to strip out the paid leave measure, instead trying to replace it with an unemployment fund for those laid off. They argued that would help more people displaced by the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic, but Democrats pointed out that paid sick leave would encourage those feeling ill to stay away from their workplace, especially those living paycheck to paycheck who can’t skip work, thus slowing the spread of the virus.
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who recently questioned why it was a big deal that 3% of the American population could die from COVID-19, sponsored the amendment, which Iowa Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley both voted for.
by Pat Rynard