On Thursday, as Iowa reported record numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and its largest number of counties with high positivity rates over 15%, Vice President Mike Pence held a campaign rally in Des Moines, boasting about the Trump administration and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ handling of the pandemic.
Pence, the leader of the White House’s coronavirus task force, told Iowans during a 45-minute speech at the Des Moines Airport that they were “blessed to have Governor Kim Reynolds in the Governor’s office at such a time as this,” while on Thursday evening, Iowa’s hospitalizations hit a record 606, according to the state’s website, with 95 people admitted in the past 24 hours and with 152 people in the ICU.
Iowa Public Health also reported on Thursday 26 counties with a 14-day positivity rate greater than 15%, which is up from 15 counties on Wednesday and is the highest number the state has reported since it began tracking that data.
“So working with Governor Reynolds I promise you, we’re going to continue to meet this moment. We’re going to continue to protect the vulnerable. We’re going to continue to save lives and develop life-saving medicines. Till the day comes when we put this coronavirus in the past,” Pence said.
“It’s amazing to think, the leadership of your President and the leadership of your Governor, in just the last five months, we’ve already seen 11.5 million Americans go back to work, including nearly 100,000 people all across the Hawkeye state. We’re opening up America again.”
Before Pence’s arrival, Reynolds spoke to a crowd of over 100—some without masks— about the importance of keeping the state open during COVID-19. The Governor has maintained a pro-business approach and a no mask-mandate in Iowa from the start of the pandemic, despite concerns raised by public health officials.
“And I am so proud also to be the Governor who puts her faith in Iowans. Iowans are resilient. They’re responsible. They’re safe. And they do the right thing,” Reynolds said at the rally.
“We’ve been able to keep 85% of our workforce working and businesses open. We are getting our children back in the building, back in school. Seventy-five percent of our schools are open five days a week. And it is why our fiscal health is strong. We closed fiscal year ’20 with a balanced budget. Cash reserves full, and a surplus of 305 million dollars. Elections matter. Leadership matters.”
Pence’s visit, five days out from Election Day, focused on the “great progress” the Trump administration has made over the past three years. He noted their “rebuilding of the military,” a revival of the economy, protections of pro-life policies and their numerous conservative judicial appointments.
“None of that would have been possible without the strong and consistent support of Iowa’s Republican delegation to Congress. So right after you reelect President Donald Trump, and right after you send Senator Joni Ernst back to the Senate, we need you to send David Young and Ashley Hinson to a new Republican majority in Washington D.C. and retire Nancy Pelosi once and for all,” Pence said. “In three short years, we made America Great Again. And then the coronavirus struck from China.”
Pence said that the Trump administration’s suspension of travel to China at the beginning of the pandemic “bought [the country] invaluable time to stand up the greatest national mobilizations since World War II.” The Vice President also touted their distribution of supplies and PPE and therapeutics.
And despite claims from scientists and federal officials that a vaccine won’t be available until later next year, Pence claimed that they will be available in a few months.
“Even as we’re seeing cases rising in parts of the country, people of Iowa can be confident that we’re going to continue to work around the clock to assure that all of our doctors and nurses have all of the support they need to give any Iowa family impacted by the coronavirus the level of care we’d want for a member of our family,” Pence said.
“We’ll get through this. And we’ll get through this together. But I have to pause for a second and give some credit where credit is due. Because all along the way, people of Iowa have witnessed the steady, strong and compassionate leadership of Governor Kim Reynolds.”
A “We love Kim” chant began from the crowd after he praised Reynolds’ leadership.
Iowa saw nearly 2,500 new COVID-19 positives in the state on Thursday, and The New York Times COVID-19 tracker ranks Iowa sixth-worst in the nation for overall per-capita infections. The state also saw more than 30,000 COVID-19 cases in October alone, with over 122,000 who have tested positive since the pandemic came to the state in March.
“I’ve worked with governors in all 50 states and our territories, and I’ve got to tell you that Governor Reynolds’ innovation on testing early on, the distribution of PPE testing to doctors and nurses, even up to this very hour and moment,” Pence said. “I’ll tell you—the president and I are grateful. Incredible leader.”
The praise of GOP leadership during the pandemic also comes a day after Reynolds mocked Sen. Ernst’s competitor, Democrat Theresa Greenfield, for pausing her campaign because of campaign members’ COVID-19 exposure.
Greenfield’s campaign announced Wednesday morning that their RV tour was on pause, but have since resumed it today after Greenfield and staff received negative results from tests.
“Theresa didn’t get very far on her RV tour, did she?” Reynolds said at a Bondurant campaign event on Wednesday evening. “She’s been hiding in the basement because she might have to answer a question.”
by Isabella Murray
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