Iowa Democratic leadership said there has been little action to mitigate COVID-19 and contact trace at the Iowa Capitol despite mounting positive cases, including two this week associated with the House and Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls on a Thursday press call said that Iowa Republicans have “refused to protect [Capitol staff, lawmakers and visitors] by failing to put in place basic protective measures.”
Iowa House of Representatives staff reported Wednesday that a person associated with the House tested positive for COVID-19, which comes after Iowa Senate staff on Monday reported that someone associated with their chamber tested positive. The latest two positives mark the eighth confirmed case in the Capitol this year.
“We got an email from the secretary of the Senate this week,” said Wahls on the call. “There was no mention of contact tracing, extra cleaning, nothing. I do not have confidence that [contact tracing] is occurring.”
Wahls also called for the early February Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation into COVID-19 cases at the Capitol be released.
“I think it’s been now two and a half, three months since we’ve had Iowa OSHA visit the state capitol on February 5 and we still haven’t heard anything from them,” said Wahls.
“We need an update from Iowa OSHA on what they found in their investigation in early February and we need to get an answer—is the Governor’s office slow walking that investigation? We don’t know.”
House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard said that his caucus communicates with the House’s chief clerk when they’re made aware of positive cases. He said his caucus doesn’t receive much information in return, however.
“We don’t get a lot of information because I think a lot of the legislators aren’t reporting. So I wouldn’t say that we’re doing a real great job. We’re doing what we can with the information that we get and that’s about all we can do,” Prichard said.
“I would appreciate if the Governor and other Republican leaders would send that same message because that’s how we then get out of this pandemic sooner and get life back to normal.”
by Isabella Murray
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