Iowa Democratic leaders on Thursday criticized a “leadership vacuum” in the Republican-run state as desperate residents search for COVID-19 vaccinations and relief with little to no government help.
During their weekly press conference on Thursday, Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls, House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard, and House Democratic Whip Jennifer Konfrst addressed Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ initially slow vaccine distribution and the Republican legislature not advancing any pandemic-related aid.
“Getting a vaccine shouldn’t be like playing the hunger games. It’s just another example of a leadership vacuum,” said Konfrst on Thursday.
“People are posting on social media, everybody rush to this site. In a crisis, people look to leaders… And we’re just not seeing that kind of leadership from our Governor. It can feel helpless when we have constituents contacting us and there’s nothing we can do to help because we can’t get a straight answer, things are changing, expectations are changing, rules are changing.”
A new, citizen-run Twitter account called Iowa Vaccine Alerts was launched on Thursday which tracks vaccine locations and alerts followers. Wahls said that he’d seen the account, run by Iowa City-based web developer Brian Finley.
“The fact that that is how Iowans are being forced to get vaccine information openings I think speaks volumes about the challenges that our state government has had in rolling out vaccinations,” Wahls said.
The 2021 Iowa Legislative session has seen a push of partisan bills that have passed along party-lines related to criminal justice, education, gun rights and abortion, among other issues. Not a single COVID-related bill has made it to the Governor’s desk.
“I’d give [session] a very tone-deaf grade, that doesn’t take into account that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and we’ve got record numbers of people at food banks … we’ve got people dying on a daily basis,” said Prichard.
“I think that this session has failed to grasp the moment that we’re in, and has used this opportunity instead to do a lot of partisan legislation. I give it an F.”
by Isabella Murray
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.