Some statements by Gov. Kim Reynolds make me question her level of knowledge about what happens on the US Southern Border.
“Part of the problem is the Southern Border is open and we’ve got 88 countries that are coming across the border, and they don’t have vaccines so none of them are vaccinated, and they are getting dispersed throughout the country,” Reynolds told reporters Tuesday when asked about the most recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases.
The reason behind such claims is she—like many other Republicans—intentionally feeds her base with hatred against immigrants by using Trump’s tactics in hopes that it may work for her on a future Trump-style candidacy and to remain in the good graces of the GOP.
What is really concerning about what the governor said is the origin of her sources. In this case, she echoes information from a Fox News report that said COVID cases among migrants in the Rio Grande Valley sector increased by 900% as border crossings rise.
The basis for that 900% number is 135 cases in early July, a mere fraction of what Iowa has seen in the past month. As the Register recently reported, Iowa is seeing an average of 308 new COVID-19 cases a day. The number of hospitalized Iowans for the virus is around 150 currently.
It is true, however, that many Latin American countries do not have the same access to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines.
“Our region has yet to access the vaccines it needs to keep our populations safe,” said Dr. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization.
All those arriving at the border are not allowed to enter nor do they all end up in Iowa, but they do need to have access to COVID-19 vaccination, regardless. They are human too and after all, this is a global crisis that will only subside with global vaccination.
In the meantime, Iowa’s vaccination rate is right below 50%. This is with abundantly available vaccines and with the state turning away doses. It is estimated that if 70-90 percent of the population is vaccinated, it will provide herd immunity. It would be logical for our state government to focus on that goal versus utilizing a “blaming” tactic.
For Reynolds, it is easier to blame immigrants more than 1,000 miles away than to acknowledge that due to her lack of leadership, less than half of Iowa’s population has been vaccinated.
Blaming the most vulnerable instead of taking responsibility seems the norm for the governor.
During this pandemic, all she has done is play politics.
From attending rallies during the height of the pandemic with the former president to contradicting experts and science to signing legislation against mask mandates to sending kids to in-person school way too soon last year, Reynolds continues to be a follower and not a leader.
At the height of Iowa’s COVID-19 surge, Reynolds refused to hold meatpacking companies responsible for negligence and created protections for those companies, some of which are large donors to her campaign.
Again, her logic does not match her words. Meatpacking plants were hot spots and many immigrants and refugees who work at those facilities were infected and some died on her watch. Safety only matters to Reynolds when it is connected to her own interest and those of her party.
A quote by education specialist and motivational speaker Mehrnaz Bassiri comes to mind: “Without a moral compass, the human mind will justify anything,” and that is exactly what Reynolds has been doing since becoming governor.
Morality and logic must prevail if Iowa will forge ahead during this ongoing health crisis — rhetoric and blaming others won’t do it.
By Claudia Thrane