Ernst: ‘Iowa Has Fared Pretty Well’ During Coronavirus Pandemic

Ernst: ‘Iowa Has Fared Pretty Well’ During Coronavirus Pandemic

By Elizabeth Meyer

April 28, 2020

Iowa has the fourth-highest growth rate of coronavirus in the country and some of the nation’s largest numbers of cases per capita, yet in a recent interview with Breitbart, Sen. Joni Ernst said the state “has fared pretty well” during the pandemic.

“Iowa has fared pretty well. We are a very rural state, but some of the restrictions that have been put in place by our governor have worked quite well,” Ernst said during a radio interview last week. “We are of course saddened by the deaths that we have had, but we have not been hit nearly as hard as some of the more metro areas or coastal areas. We have had a couple of recent outbreaks at some of our meat processing facilities — because they are essential workers they continue going into work and being with each other every day — but overall Iowa has done very well through the pandemic.”

Iowa has confirmed outbreaks (positive cases among three or more residents) of COVID-19 at 23 long-term care facilities in Black Hawk, Bremer, Dallas, Dubuque, Jasper, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Tama and Washington counties.

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As for meatpacking plants and other commercial businesses, state officials classify the number of cases as an “outbreak” when at least 10% of workers report symptoms associated with COVID-19. The state’s coronavirus website does not track the number of workplaces experiencing a coronavirus outbreak, but reporting has shown large numbers of cases among employees at multiple Tyson facilities, Prestage Foods, JBS, National Beef Co.’s Iowa Premium, TPI Composites and Whirlpool, among others.

Louisa County still ranks among the nation’s top 10 “hot spots” with 267 cases per 2,379 people due to the outbreak of COVID-19 cases at Tyson Foods.

In recent days, New York Times data found Sioux City and its surrounding metro had the nation’s highest average daily growth of news cases.

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In all, last week the coronavirus spread faster in Iowa than in any other state in the country.

Black Hawk County has surged to the top of Iowa’s list, reporting Monday a total 1,346 positive cases there, according to local health department. Health officials there said the county’s positive caseload represents 1% of their population.

Iowa has yet to “flatten the curve,” with 349 new cases and nine deaths announced Monday, bringing the statewide totals (as of Sunday morning) to 5,868 and 127, respectively.

During her daily press conference Monday morning, Gov. Kim Reynolds said she will partially lift restrictions on restaurants, fitness centers, malls, libraries, race tracks and “certain other retail establishments” in 77 counties beginning Friday. Restrictions on religious gatherings will be lifted statewide.

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Ernst’s interview came before these measures were publicly announced, but the senator already had made clear she supported a phased-in approach to reopening the state’s economy.

“Of course we want to open as soon as possible, but do it in a safe manner,” Ernst told Breitbart. “Of course there are those couple of hot spots that we’ve had in the state, but other than that the rest of the state is faring pretty well, so I can imagine that those areas that aren’t as hard hit will start phasing back up.

“People are excited about that,” she continued, “but again, we need to move cautiously and make sure that as we’re opening our businesses again we’re just using common sense and the safe practices that we have used before.”


By Elizabeth Meyer
Posted 4/28/20

Iowa Starting Line is an independently-owned progressive news outlet devoted to providing unique, insightful coverage on Iowa news and politics. We need reader support to continue operating — please donate here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more coverage.

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