Mrs. Reynolds, open up this state

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We are about a week away from the expiration of Gov. Kim Reynolds’s emergency declaration as it pertains to COVID-19. As an Iowan, I am humbly asking her to let the declaration expire and allow this state to try to return to some level of normalcy.

I’ve been of the opinion that all levels of government have overreacted to the pandemic of COVID-19 all along. My opinion has only been reinforced by studying the damage it is doing to our economy and by the very weak case presented by the facts of the virus in Iowa to keep businesses closed.

In her press conference this morning, in response to a question, Reynolds said, “Seventy percent of positive cases are in eight counties.” That might not be her exact words, but the numbers I know are correct.

Iowa has 99 counties. Of those, 84 have had positive cases of COVID-19. So, 30 percent of the 3,748 positive cases in the state are spread among 76 counties. I fully admit that the steps taken in the past few months to slow the spread have likely had an impact on those numbers being higher, but the bottom line is these do not seem to be outbreak-level numbers. At least not strong enough to warrant the continued tanking of our economy and the restrictions – however soft some may consider them to be – of our civil liberties.

Marion County is the 22nd most populous state in Iowa. Five positive cases have been identified here, and four of them have recovered.

That’s another troubling thing; apparently the state’s website that tracks the virus had indicated Marion County had one of the 90 deaths when that is not true. Why should we, as a population, continue to put all of our faith in any government if it gets that wrong? I am already skeptical of the federal government’s numbers, as all deaths of those with COVID-19 are being attributed to the virus, even if the virus is not the true cause.

If Governor Reynolds chooses to reopen Iowa, she would not be alone. Fox News reports that Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas all intend to reopen their states on May 1. They recognize the long-term damage that is being done to their states by keeping everything closed.

The Iowa Restaurant Association recently reported that the industry will lose $240 billion nationwide due to the virus. A test sample of Iowa’s bars and restaurants (10 percent) indicate that it could take years for Iowa’s hospitality industry to recover from this. The numbers, while not surprising are still scary; 95 percent of operators report dollar sales volumes down from the same time last year; 92 percent of bars are closed, resulting in an 89 percent decline in bar sales from 2019 and overall, restaurants and bars in the state will lose $310 million in sales in April alone.

Even when the state reopens, only 45 percent of these establishments estimate they can rehire everyone they had to lay off or furlough during the crisis. More than 66,000 such employees have been in this situation since March.

There are even more facts regarding hospitality businesses that are scary, such as the high percentages of those who cannot successfully make a claim on their business disruption insurance, the increasing number of businesses that will be unable to reopen the longer this goes and the greater need for taxpayer assistance.

This is just one sector of the economy. I haven’t looked into the effects on jewelry stores, clothing stores, florists, movie theaters and other entertainment venues and how they are faring. The point is, if Iowa wants to salvage the well-rounded economy that we’ve been touting for years, these people need to get back to work as soon as possible.

I don’t intend to seem callous toward those who have died during the pandemic, the stress this has placed medical providers under, the fear for loved ones who live in long-term care facilities or anything else. But it’s pretty clear that the state can work with family and workers in these areas to continue to protect these vulnerable people while the rest of us get back to work.

It’s a balancing act, I know, but I think Iowans have sacrificed their liberty and prosperity long enough. The time has come to take our chances and tip that balancing scale back to saving capitalism. Keep further restrictions on long-term care facilities, on those eight counties that account for most of Iowa’s cases, and then just let the rest of us freely prize our liberties and maintain our rights.

Take care of yourself and thank you for reading.

This story has been edited since its original post.