Iowa Congressperson Rep. Cindy Axne (D-West Des Moines) decried as “short-sighted, ill-conceived and dangerous” the loosening Friday by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds of many state-level COVID-19 mitigation rules.
Reynolds’ latest public health proclamation removed a wide range of restrictions, including the partial mask mandate ordered in November and the capacity limits for businesses and private gatherings.
Her new order no longer requires masks in any public settings and lifts all restrictions on the size and density of gatherings. Reynolds said she trusts Iowans to “do the right thing.”
Axne was blunt in her criticism of Reynolds’ relaxation of mitigation efforts.
“With this rollback of public health guidelines,” Axne said, “Governor Reynolds is sending a message that masks and safe social interactions are no longer important to slowing the spread of COVID-19 — the deadly disease that as of this week has taken over 5,000 of Iowa’s neighbors, friends and loved ones.”
Alluding to data from both the New York Times and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that shows Iowa is nearly the slowest state in the U.S. at vaccinating its people, Axne said the governor’s premature slackening “puts our community and most vulnerable at risk.”
Reynolds’ “new proclamation undermines all of those efforts,” Axne said, “disregarding the lagging vaccinations of our seniors and other vulnerable populations and skipping ahead to a return to normalcy that is unwarranted.”
The CDC has estimated that it will likely be months before the Iowans presently approved for the vaccine — people over 65, medical workers, first responders, teachers and meatpacking workers — are fully vaccinated if doses continue to be distributed at the current rate.