‘A Lot of People Are Going to Die’: Iowa Scientists Fear Guv’s COVID-19 Retreat Will Bring Further Disaster
Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty
Eight days before Christmas, Iowa presented Gov. Kim Reynolds what she was hoping a small present for the small businesses of her offended state: new, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions. But medical experts tell The Daily Beast that it is a gift that many Iovans will desperately return soon after the holiday season and will not be able to.
Just in time for the last weekend before the holidays, Reynolds signed a proclamation on Thursday lifting a previous 15-person limit for indoor gatherings and allowing bars and restaurants to return to normal operating hours with group sizes of no more than eight people away Foot. The decree only obliges patrons to wear masks when they are not seated, and generally to wear covers for publicly accessible employees. In other indoor spaces, such protective equipment is only required if people are less than two meters apart. Instagram posts from Friday and Saturday showed sisterhood girls in Iowa City and punk rockers in Des Moines gathering exposed at local watering holes.
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At a news conference Tuesday morning, Reynolds bragged that her condition was "continuing to decline," especially when compared to November when Iowa suffered its deadliest month to date and its medical system was on the verge of collapse.
But data from Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests a different and alarming trend. The national tracking system that has operated the former since the beginning of the pandemic shows that Iowa is among only eleven states that have seen their infection rates spike in the past week - and the only one in the Midwest - and a positive one Rate was exceeded only by Pennsylvania, Idaho and Alabama.
Meanwhile, federal numbers show Iowa lost 376 people to the disease in the seven-day period ending December 21, related to the Dakotas for having the worst death rate relative to population in the country.
In this regard, Reynolds ’attempt to reduce restrictions has feared domestic health professionals.
“It's not that our number of cases has dropped significantly. They've gone down a bit, but not significantly, ”said Dr. Stanley Perlman, Chair of Virology at the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine and coronavirus career expert. “I think all the data shows that it will likely be a problem. The number of cases is likely to increase after the vacation. "
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Drinking and eating indoors are particularly risky activities, Perlman warned, especially in winter when owners are less likely to open their facilities to outdoor airflow. While admitting that it is possible for a restaurant or bar to adhere to strict protocols regarding distancing, face-covering, ventilation, and interaction between members of separate households, he argued that consistency is difficult to guarantee. Longer working hours expand the viewing window for employees and bosses alike.
Perlman saw Reynolds' new rules in line with her repeated calls to Iowans to take "personal responsibility" for controlling the spread of the virus.
“It would be great if we could all be responsible for ourselves, and my health as an individual is all that matters. But it's not that simple, ”he said. "You have a high number of cases in assisted living facilities and the vulnerable populations, and people are dying."
Perlman's colleague at the University of Iowa, epidemiologist Dr. Eli Perencevich, sounded worse.
“It will be very difficult in the next few months. Lots of people are dying, ”said Perencevich, who is associate chairman for Clinical and Health Services Research.
Like Perlman, Perencevich understood the plight of small business owners. But he argued that the state should keep non-essential businesses closed until the death rate drops to zero and subsidize them from the state's massive annual budget surpluses. Meanwhile, he urged the governor to make the state's mask mandate "absolute".
Reynolds' current policies, he argued, would bring few short-term benefits - and long-term suffering for business owners and consumers alike.
"The things it loosened are not really going to help the economy and it will lead to more cases that will hurt the economy," he said. "We should limit things until no more people die." . ”
Reynolds' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But a spokesman referred The Daily Beast to the laudatory comments Jason Harrington, CEO of the Lakes Regional Health System, made at Tuesday's press conference about the governor. Harrington's remarks mainly concerned the distribution of the vaccine and government assistance in funding staff and facilitating outpatient care.
The speaker identified Harrington as a doctor. However, his degree is in Osteopathic Medicine, which is primarily concerned with the joints and spine, and he appears to have spent his career primarily in hospital administration.
And while he said that his rural medical facility in northwest Iowa as a whole is "falling," he admitted that there had indeed been an increase in those in need of extended care.
"Unfortunately, our inpatient numbers are rising because of some spikes in nursing homes," said Harrington.
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