As the weeks and months pass, waiting for the COVID-19 outbreak to run its course can feel painfully slow.
It is a stressful time for thousands of Iowa families. We read each day about higher and higher numbers of documented infections and deaths. And we still may be weeks away from hitting a peak.
While some folks are eager to return to their routines, re-open their shops and get life back to normal, there is also concern. Will re-opening large parts of our state too soon prolong the spread of the virus or even worsen the outbreak as people begin to gather again?
After all, Iowa is nowhere close to hitting the benchmarks that the federal coronavirus task force says states should meet before beginning the three-phase process of re-opening. These benchmarks include:
* A 14-day drop in the number of cases.
* A 14-day drop in the percentage of positive tests.
* Robust testing, contact tracing and treatment.
On the contrary, the virus is spreading faster in Iowa than almost anywhere else. Long-term care residents, Iowans in state-run facilities and communities with meatpacking plants continue to be hard hit by the pandemic.
Iowa has drawn nationwide attention, as thousands of meatpacking employees who work in close quarters test positive for COVID-19. Inadequate worker protections are causing sickness and death, a tragedy for families and communities with ripple effects that impact us all — our food supply, our farmers, our mental health, our economy.
All of Iowa can safely and successfully re-open once we contain the virus, but we aren’t there yet. We’ll get there by continuing to follow the advice of our public health experts: staying home except for essential errands, washing our hands, wearing a mask and gloves while running errands, and keeping our distance from those we don’t live with.