Last year, Iowans unimpressed with Gov. Kim Reynolds’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic gave her a new moniker: “COVID Kim.”
Since then, the name has become common among Reynolds’ critics online. WHO 13’s Dave Price asked her about it in an interview that aired Sunday.
“People never 100 percent agree with the decisions I make,” Reynolds said.
Price suggested that some people think she has been uncaring in her actions throughout the pandemic.
“That’s not true, it’s not accurate,” she replied. “You know, I have to take a look at the data, surround myself with experts that give me feedback, we did that.”
Some of those decisions she’s taken have included banning schools and localities from requiring people to wear masks, requiring schools to offer in-person instruction for the spring 2021 semester, and resisting calls to implement more COVID safety measures last year. Reynolds also pushed back on federal calls from experts to put some of these in place.
“I’ve tried to be transparent with Iowans,” she said.
Reynolds pointed to the daily press conferences she held for most of last year where she shared changes in hospitalizations, case numbers, and outbreaks at long-term care facilities.
When pressured to take certain actions, Reynolds has often emphasized “personal responsibility,” whether it’s isolating and mask-wearing in public, or, more recently, to students and faculty at schools wearing masks.
In her interview, she said she believed that because she didn’t push too hard on certain restrictions early on in the pandemic, Iowans responded better to her when she did implement tougher measures when cases and hospitalizations spiked last November.
“I put my trust in people to do the right thing. They did the right thing. I didn’t close us down,” Reynolds said. “So I ask Iowans to step up. To take that extra step, even though it was over the holidays, to maybe keep those gatherings small or just with immediate family. And because I think I hadn’t just overburdened them and gone too far with some of the regulations when I needed them to do it, they stepped up, they did it.”
As of last Wednesday, Iowa had an average of 814 new cases per day and 48 percent of Iowans had been vaccinated. The state updates its data weekly.
by Nikoel Hytrek