Opinion

Reopening the state

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Additional reopenings throughout the state began last week continue this week after a new proclamation from Gov. Reynolds. Starting May 22, movie theaters, zoos, aquariums, and museums were allowed to reopen, as long as they can accommodate reasonable public health measures. Pools will only be allowed to reopen for lap swimming and swimming lessons.

Next week, starting May 28, bars will be allowed to reopen using the same restrictions currently placed on restaurants. Similar to the previous proclamations and as part of the phase-in process for reopening, these establishments will need to allow for social distancing, operate at a reduced capacity and implement public health measures to reduce the risk of the virus.

Another important part of this new proclamation allows schools to reopen for summer activities, like high school baseball and softball. This includes, like the other reopenings, allowing for social distancing and public health measures.

The state's coronavirus tracking website, coronavirus.iowa.gov, has also been updated to provide real-time tracking instead of just the daily counts. The number of Iowans tested, positive and negative cases, as well as the number of hospital beds and ventilators available is all accessible on the website. These numbers demonstrate why the state has been reopening, step by step, safely and responsibly.

At the beginning of the pandemic in Iowa, the biggest concern was the possibility of overwhelming our health care system so the resources would not be available for anyone who needed care. The whole point in "flattening the curve" was to slow down the spread of coronavirus in Iowa, thereby ensuring necessary care for those who got infected with the virus. 

Now that testing continues to expand across the state and the resources in hospitals are widely available, those closures are no longer necessary. They also cause significant harm to Iowans trying to make a living and provide for their families. While managing the spread of the virus remains a priority, so does ensuring the people of Iowa can continue working, paying their bills, and putting food on the table.

Iowa can move forward and still keep ourselves and others safe. We've seen businesses all across the state take measures to protect their employees and the public. They're using curbside pickup for groceries, food or medicine. They are putting up partitions between staff and the public or requesting people wear masks in their establishments. Iowans are still encouraged to use social distancing when possible, wear a mask if it is not possible, wash their hands frequently and limit trips to busy stores. With all these guidelines in place and the additional precautions businesses and other establishments are taking, we can continue with much of our normal life.

As legislators prepare to resume the legislative session in a few weeks, please feel free to contact me with any concerns or questions you may have. I look forward to getting back to work in the Senate, putting together a state budget, and passing the remaining policy priorities from this session.