Opinion

Helping neighbors

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

As we all work to adjust during this difficult time, Iowans all across the state have been stepping up to help their neighbors and communities. Stories of people making homemade face masks for their friends, families, neighbors, or donating them to local hospitals are told daily. We have also seen local restaurants contribute food to health care providers, and Iowans purposefully supporting these local restaurants with takeout orders in an effort to keep those places in business.

You can help your community in many different ways too. The Iowa Department of Public Health has issued guidance on making homemade masks for health care providers. You can also check with your local hospital on what specifications they have. Volunteer Iowa has a number of opportunities available for those who want to volunteer during the pandemic.  The American Red Cross is looking for people to donate blood. The Food Bank of Iowa is currently doing a fundraiser to raise money to meet the immediate need for meals for Iowans impacted in some way by the virus.

If you and your family are struggling to get necessary meals, a number of food assistance programs are available. The Department of Human Services has information available on how to apply for food assistance. At the Department of Public Health's website you can learn about the WIC program, and the Department on Aging is also providing home-delivered or drive-through meals for Iowans over the age of 60. Food banks all across Iowa are working hard to provide meals for families in need. Iowa Homeland Security has a map of food banks serving your area.

The state website for COVID-19 in Iowa has also been updated to include more information about the number of cases in our state and additional information on how the virus is affecting Iowa. You can find that information at coronavirus.iowa.gov. The site includes details on lab testing and assessments from each of the regional medical coordination centers (RMCC). The RMCC information lists the number of hospitalized patients, number of beds and ventilators available, and how many people are on ventilators.

I cannot express enough gratitude for the doctors, nurses, health care staff, and first responders working around the clock to help those patients afflicted with this virus, and doing what they can to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state. For those who still have to go to work and are looking for childcare, the Department of Human Services has a map of facilities with spots available.

A number of constituents have contacted me expressing their desire to reopen the economy. I think all Iowans are looking forward to the time when we return to work, school, and social functions. I am optimistic we can proceed through this pandemic and reopen the economy in a balanced and responsible way in coordination with data-driven health care decisions. Indeed, the governor mentioned at a recent press conference that northwest Iowa might be the right place to re-open the economy, gauge the impact on public and economic health, and use as a blueprint for the rest of the state and even region.

If you have any questions, concerns, or are looking for resources to help you during this time, please feel free to contact me.