DES MOINES, Iowa – Mask and social distancing mandates are now eased in the state of Iowa as part of a proclamation Gov. Reynolds announced on Friday, Feb. 5. On Monday, we learned from lawmakers she did that without conferring first with public health officials.
It’s a decision that’s causing some frustration, especially for a group of educators and parents.
Iowa Educators for a Safe Return to School is a group on Facebook made up of more than 22,500 people across the state. After the latest proclamation, the group is now writing to the White House for help.
“The goal of the effort is just to put pressure on her to do something,” Jeremy Dumkrieger, co-founder of the group, said. “The president is asking everybody to wear masks for 100 days and she pulls about all of her restrictions. It’s almost like she’s doing it just to spite him and the rest of us who want the people to wear masks.”
There are posts on the page that read “Mr. President, send help.” Dumkrieger said the group understands President Biden won’t be able to do much, but they’re hoping to focus attention on the situation.
The group points out Iowa’s low ranking in vaccine administration and high positivity rate in case numbers. Meanwhile, Gov. Reynolds’ Office said Iowa is in the top ten or fifteen when you factor in total tests for COVID-19 and has seen an 80-percent decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations since Mid-November.
Dumkrieger said he doesn’t understand the governor’s thought process and thinks this is poor timing with vaccinations underway.
“We’re this close to having everybody get this [vaccine]. Why put people in danger? There are older people out there that can’t get the vaccine, don’t know how to sign up for it,” Dumkrieger explains. “Their adult parents are trying to get on Walgreens.com and whatnot, to get people signed up and they get kicked off.”
Gov. Reynolds’ Office released the following statement on Monday in response to the situation.
“The governor has been consistent since the beginning of the pandemic and is following through with her commitment to dial back restrictions based on a significant decrease in COVID hospitalizations.”Pat Garrett, Spokesman for Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Garrett also said vaccinations are increasing. In the last two and a half weeks since expanding beyond Phase 1A, Iowa has administered more than 161,000 doses. Nearly 90,000 of those have been administered in the last seven dates. That’s an average rate of nearly 13,000 doses per day, and they expect that to increase.