In light of the death of three Iowans due to COVID-19, all of whom lived in the 1st Congressional District, on Friday U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer called on Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a “stay-at-home” order.
In a letter to the governor, Finkenauer thanked Reynolds for her “ongoing efforts during this emergency,” but asked she “reconsider” her decision not to issue a statewide directive.
“After consulting with medical professionals, especially those in the Dubuque area where we saw the first tragic passing of a coronavirus patient, I feel even more strongly that we must take every precaution to protect our families and the essential workers who our state and the nation rely on,” Finkenauer said.
As of Friday morning, Iowa has 235 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 46 counties. Three people in Dubuque, Poweshiek and Allamakee counties have died due to the virus.
Finkenauer was notified of the two latest deaths moments before she spoke today on the House floor in support of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which unanimously passed the House, Senate and was signed into law by President Trump this afternoon. The $2 trillion aid package is the third bill signed by the president to financially assist individuals, small businesses, large companies and health care systems as coronavirus cases increase in the United States.
“Today we are grieving losses all over the country and the globe where, tragically, necessary caution came too late,” Finkenauer said during her 30 seconds on the House floor. “The package we’re considering today is not perfect. It will not bring folks back that we lost, but it will give much needed relief to our hospital systems and workers on the front-lines and to our working families and small businesses across the country.”
We just passed the CARES Act sending relief to our hospitals, frontline workers, and working families across the country. Here are my remarks on the House floor before our vote. #IA01 pic.twitter.com/6HExiOB75J
— Abby Finkenauer (@RepFinkenauer) March 27, 2020
On a call with Iowa reporters, Finkenauer said she has talked directly to Reynolds about why she felt it was “incredibly important” to issue the stay-at-home order and shut down all non-essential activity in the state.
“I am going to do whatever the heck I can for the folks in my district and across the state,” Finkenauer said. “I am worried that, again, if we do not take every single step necessary, what that ends up looking like, not just for Iowa but for the rest of the country, and I think it is warranted to be as cautious as possible here and take every step necessary.”
At her daily press conference Friday afternoon, Reynolds was pressed by reporters on why she has not issued a stay-at-home directive.
“I believe Iowans don’t need an order to do the right thing,” Reynolds said. “I believe they know what they need to do and again, if they follow through — stay home when they’re sick, practice proper hygiene, only go out when you need to, check on those loved ones that are vulnerable to make sure they have the supplies that they need — we will get through this sooner rather than later.”
Reynolds recommended March 15 schools close for four weeks and on March 17 ordered restaurants and bars to close their businesses to dine-in customers. On Sunday she ordered salons, barber shops, medical spas, massage therapists, tattoo shops and swimming pools to close. On Thursday, that directive extended to most retail shops. The state will also forbid all elective and non-essential surgeries and medical procedures through the duration of the crisis. That includes abortion, her office confirmed late this afternoon.
Finkenauer acknowledged that the governor has explained her reasoning during their phone calls, but said it was her responsibility as a public official to voice disagreements when they arise.
“Yes, we disagree, and that’s OK,” Finkenauer said. “But at the same time, I’m not going to stay silent or continue to watch this happen without doing everything I can in my power to urge the governor and anyone listening that we should be taking the next step and making sure that we are issuing this order to keep folks as safe as possible.”
By Elizabeth Meyer