Iowa legislative Democrats have criticized Gov. Kim Reynolds’ pandemic response since the early days of COVID-19 in the state, so the Governor’s Thursday night admission on national television that she returned $95 million in federal dollars meant for surveillance testing in schools was one more sign of complacency.
“[Reynolds] has quit in the fight against coronavirus and won’t even use resources that have been made available to help us fight coronavirus,” said Cedar Rapids Democratic Sen. Rob Hogg.
“Governor Reynolds and the other Republican legislative leaders have not taken the coronavirus seriously. And it’s tragic for me to watch … And for her to turn back money that the Biden/Harris administration provided to keep kids safe, it’s disappointing and it’s tragic.”
Reynolds’ claim, made on Fox News’ “Red State Trailblazers” town hall in Orlando, Florida was later confirmed by the Iowa Department of Public Health, according to KCCI.
“[The federal government] sent $95 million to the state of Iowa to get our kids back in the classroom by doing surveillance testing and I said, ‘we’ve been in the classroom since August—here’s your $95 million back,’” Reynolds said after being applauded by moderator Laura Ingraham for her lax COVID-19 policies and early school openings.
“Returning federal COVID funding during a public health disaster is like drilling holes in a sinking boat,” said Iowa Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls in a statement. “Iowans are hurting and the Governor and Republican-controlled Legislature are making it worse by putting politics before public health. Whether it’s small businesses, front-line health care workers, or our public schools, Iowa needs all the help we can muster to get through this pandemic and get our economy going again.”
Democrats have long criticized Reynolds and the Republican-controlled Legislature’s failure to pass meaningful pandemic relief or mitigation policies in the state. After the Governor’s recent statement, a number of prominent Democrats took to social media in response.
Never passing up an opportunity to pass up an opportunity. https://t.co/1jJMUQqq4V
— Ras Smith (@rassmith62) April 30, 2021
“The Covid” has cost thousands of Iowans their lives including the lives of teachers who were back in the classroom before @IAGovernor had a plan to keep them & our children safe. Surveillance testing literally saves lives & our Gov just gleefully boasts “I’ll pass!” Ice. Cold. https://t.co/0y6XZuAOBo
— Abby Finkenauer (@Abby4Iowa) April 30, 2021
Iowa has now reported over 8,400 kids who have contracted coronavirus in the 3 months since January 29, the date when Gov. Reynolds signed SF160 to force schools to offer 100% in-person without providing safety precautions.
But our Governor… ?♂️ https://t.co/w7yR3f7Kjq
— J.D. Scholten (@JDScholten) April 30, 2021
Hogg has been using his social media platforms since January to document child COVID-19 cases in schools, regularly noting Reynolds’ failure to lead on the steady upticks in cases.
“It’s all very disappointing. Over 38,000 kids in Iowa have gotten coronavirus since the start of the school year, and it’s not just about the kids, it’s about the people they live with and can spread it to,” said Hogg.
“I will always wonder, if Iowa had better safety precautions at the center of our response to coronavirus, if we couldn’t have avoided thousands of deaths and tens of thousands of cases.”
by Isabella Murray