A Sobering Comparison

Screenshot_2020-04-06 Gov Kim Reynolds updates Iowans on the COVID-19 outbreak in Iowa (4 6 20)(6)

Among the other blogs I try to keep up with is iowastartingline.com. Throughout the lead up to the caucuses they covered the Iowa caucuses thoroughly. Since the caucuses they have been doing top notch work covering Iowa’s politics and the Covid-19 outbreak in Iowa.

Their Thursday newsletter contained a little blurb that raised an eyebrow. They noted that Iowa’s corona virus infection rate was nearing that of neighboring Minnesota:

Iowa Nearing Minnesota In COVID-19 Cases

In the past week, Iowa’s coronavirus positive case numbers have been moving ever-closer to surpassing Minnesota’s. It’s likely that happens today or tomorrow. Yesterday, Iowa had 1,145 cases, compared to Minnesota’s 1,154. This is despite Minnesota conducting more tests than Iowa. Minnesota has done 30,753, compared to Iowa’s 13,966. Iowa has nearly double the rate per population than Minnesota right now.

Minnesota’s population is about 2.5 million higher than Iowa’s. Minnesota also has the Twin Cities with a metropolitan population in the 4 million range. Densely packed cities seem to be one of the worst factors for spreading the virus. Yet the much less populated Iowa is coming close to matching the nearly twice as large Minnesota. Also noted in the paragraph above is that Minnesota has done more that twice as many tests.

Minnesota’s Governor Tim Walz has been  much more aggressive in shutting down non-essential activities. While not issuing a total lockdown, Walz issued an original stay at home order a couple of weeks ago:  

“Buckle it up for a few more weeks,” the governor said. The order takes effect Saturday and lasts through April 10.

Walz said it’s impossible to lessen the number of Minnesotans who will become infected with COVID-19, but the stay-home order is intended to push out the time of peak infections so there are intensive care unit beds available for those who need it.

“The thing that Minnesota is going to do is ensure if you need an ICU, it’s there,” Walz told the state in a livestreamed address Wednesday.

Minnesota had 235 ICU beds available as of Tuesday, Walz said, adding that about 15 percent of COVID-19 cases will require hospitalization and 5 percent will need intensive care. The remaining 80 percent of infections are expected to be mild.”

In contrast in Iowa, Governor Kim Reynolds has been extremely reluctant to shut down anything. Reynolds just extended the shut down for Iowa schools through April earlier this week. She also finally ordered shut downs for shopping malls and other places where crowds gather:

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday expanded business closures to include malls, bowling alleys and playgrounds and instructed police to enforce her order prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people as the coronavirus pandemic intensified across the state.

Public health officials reported 78 new positive cases Monday, bringing the state total to 946 known cases across 75 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Three additional deaths related to COVID-19 increased the state total to 25.

<< snip >>

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday expanded business closures to include malls, bowling alleys and playgrounds and instructed police to enforce her order prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people as the coronavirus pandemic intensified across the state.

Public health officials reported 78 new positive cases Monday, bringing the state total to 946 known cases across 75 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Three additional deaths related to COVID-19 increased the state total to 25.”

Time and preparedness are critical in this pandemic. Reynolds has failed in both areas. Her 12 point metrics system has been a mystery to Iowans who see cases and deaths go up daily, yet according to Reynolds metrics not bad enough to do serious action.   

While Reynolds has been slow to respond to the crisis, we fear that she will be too quick to lift restrictions as the crisis wanes. Letting up on restrictions too early could easily cause a rebound in infections and be self-defeating. 

Meanwhile in Minnesota, Governor Walz proceeds with great caution in opening things back up:  

Gov. Tim Walz is extending the state’s stay at home executive order to May 4.

Walz says this next round is not like “flipping a light switch.” It’s a way to piece-by-piece turn on parts of the economy in a way that does not jeopardize the progress Minnesotans have made by physical distancing.

“We cannot rest easy,” Walz said.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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