COVID BARNSTORMS IOWA – – A year ago, the nation looked to Iowa to see presidential candidates eating stick-fried food at the state fair. Now the local news is even grimmer.
Iowa is one of seven states, mostly in the Midwest, that Anthony Fauci said must be on high alert this Labor Day weekend. Fauci warned of rising positivity rates in the region, telling Bloomberg that the region’s Covid numbers “predict there will be a problem”.
The White House coronavirus task force has recommended state officials close bars in 61 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Test all students returning to campus. and issue a nationwide mask mandate warning that the state has the highest infection rates in the country.
Republican Governor Kim Reynolds has so far rejected these proposals.
In just two weeks, Iowa added more than 1
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie mandated masks in his city last week. Nightly spoke to Cownie, a Democrat, about managing a city in the nation’s new hotspot. This conversation has been edited.
Governor Reynolds closed bars in six counties. Do you think it should close more?
Absolutely. And hopefully she should follow our example and give a nationwide mask mandate.
We have people who come to Des Moines from all over the state and when they come from an area that hasn’t received this emergency notification they say what’s going on here? Why are you wearing a mask?
I hear from friends in other states – they don’t want to see that many people from Iowa right now who come to their areas without quarantine for a period to make sure they don’t have it.
How do you enforce your city’s mask mandate?
What we are trying to do is not to be punishable. I mean it could be a civil violation and hand over a money ticket. But we start with the words: hey you are breaking, there is a mask mandate, here is a mask. We hand out masks. Wear it.
Reynolds didn’t rule out raising the drinking age for young people to curb the spread. How does that feel?
I’m not exactly sure what she’s talking about. Is she talking about getting it up to 30 or what?
What a lot of people see in some of these areas where people gather to be entertained after work, we see a lot of people – I would say mid 20s, maybe 30s seem to be the ones who do. At least until about a weekend ago, a lot of them didn’t wear masks at all and got into these rather narrow places.
Worried about K-12 students going back to the classroom?
Our school district would prefer not to even meet in person until we get this under control and suppress this wave. Des Moines Public Schools is currently in litigation with the Iowa Department of Education over this matter because the governor mandated that they be in class at least 50 percent of the time. And if they don’t, there is a risk that their funds will be cut and they will not recognize credit for any of the classes they are taking.
What would you say to those who think Covid will just go away?
There are three quick things in nine words: Wear a mask. Wear a mask. Wear a mask.
I hate to say it, but this is an IQ test.
Welcome to POLITICO Nightly: Coronavirus Special Edition. Take it [email protected] or on Twitter at @renurayasam.
WITHOUT ANY TRACE – – Large numbers of Covid-19 patients are refusing to tell public health workers who they have been in contact with and thwarting government efforts to slow the spread of disease in a fragile turn in the pandemic. The contact tracing data provided to POLITICO shows that more than three quarters of respondents in states with high infection rates such as California and Louisiana have refused to cooperate in identifying relatives or acquaintances who may have been exposed to the disease.
Follow-up programs, coupled with extensive testing, have been credited with controlling the spread of Covid-19 in some countries, including South Korea and New Zealand, write health reporters Alice Miranda Ollstein and Darius Tahir. But state officials and public health experts say U.S. efforts have been undermined by the Trump administration’s failure to advocate tracing. Conspiracy theories linking interviews to government plans to set up surveillance cameras and gun confiscations have not helped.
This persistent distrust could hamper immunization programs once a Covid-19 vaccine is found. “We were concerned that we were the FBI or some other government agency,” said Kirstin Short, director of the epidemiology office for the Houston Health Department.
POLITICO requested detailed traceability data from each state. A total of 14 states and New York City returned results that showed widespread public reluctance to participate in the pursuit of disease. Few, including Massachusetts and Vermont, have convinced the majority of their Covid-positive residents to expose who they may have infected.
Fight back the resuscitation – – Earlier this summer, Covid cases fell and states began to reopen. Weeks later there was a resurgence. In the latest POLITICO mailing, health reporters Dan Goldberg and Dan Diamond explain how the Trump administration sees a repeat of this situation – just two months before the election.
Evacuation warning sign – The Trump administration’s new nationwide ban on evictions and Congressional inaction on rental subsidies jeopardize “the stability of the entire rental housing sector,” a coalition of a dozen housing associations warned today. In light of a possible wave of displacement during the worst economic shock since the Great Depression, the White House on Tuesday put in place a new eviction moratorium on non-payment of rent by the end of the year.
However, the policy does not provide funding for rental support – landlords fail while the eviction of tenants who cannot find funds to repay rent after the moratorium expires is merely delayed, writes financial services reporter Katy O’Donnell. “Without rental support, the real estate industry faces an unrecoverable financial burden that could lead to the biggest rental housing crisis of our lives,” the group of organizations representing both for-profit and nonprofit rental housing providers wrote to Congress leaders today.
Powerful industry officials – including the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Homebuilders, and the Mortgage Bankers Association – signed the letter, which was copied to administrative officials. The ban “will ultimately harm the very people it wants to help,” they wrote. “It will be impossible for housing providers, especially small owners, to meet their financial obligations and continue to provide protection for their residents. In addition, tenants are burdened with unmanageable debt due to months of unpaid rents that may date back to March. “
Nightly asks you: Send us pictures of your Covid-19 work or study room. Submit your photo to [email protected]. We will include selected photos in our Friday edition.
ROOMS – Eugene Daniels, Tim Alberta, Ryan Lizza and Laura Barrón-López discuss the “death march towards November”, how protests and Covid will affect the presidential race and politics around Kenosha, Wisconsin, and shoot the suspect Kyle Rittenhouse.
KICKING OFF – – Tyler Weyant from Nightly writes:
The top league of college football returns tonight with a series of slightly entertaining games. The season will be broken and troubled, with conferences canceling game times, fans excluded from games, and major safety concerns. Here’s Nightly’s fall scouting report.
Offense: Despite what you’ve heard, many conferences are driving the football forward and have gotten creative with how to make a schedule. The proudly independent Notre Dame has joined the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Defense: Conferences that have postponed their season, including the Big Ten, Pac 12 and Mountain West, will prevent a possible return to the field. Pressure from fans, university officials and politicians will mount during the election season. Prepare for inconsistent use of masks: In a Football Championship Subdivision game played last week in Alabama, few stood on the sidelines.
Coaching: Don’t listen to coaches or politicians no matter how much noise they make. Decisions about the season are made by university presidents and medical professionals.
Special teams: The home advantage will be small this year. Many schools severely limit the number of fans they can play. Some schools have already withdrawn to fanless events.
Intangible assets: Game postponements or more season cancellations can be made at short notice. Penn State’s director of sports medicine released terrifying statistics on heart inflammation in infected athletes this week (only to have to run back a short time later). Enjoy the splendor while you can because the circus can pack up and leave town at any time.
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