Reynolds questions Fauci’s call for sheltering in place

By: - April 3, 2020 4:35 pm

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds holds a news conference on COVID-19 at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnston, IA, on Friday, April 3, 2020. (Photo by Olivia Sun/Pool, The Des Moines Register)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Friday questioned the information Dr. Anthony Fauci is relying on to call for shelter-in-place orders in all 50 states.

Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, South Dakota and North Dakota are the only states without a statewide shelter-in-place order in effect. Seven other states are subject to local or regional shelter-in-place orders.

At her Friday afternoon press conference, Reynolds was asked about Fauci, who is guiding the national response to COVID-19 and who said Thursday there “really should be” a stay-at-home order in effect in all 50 states.

“I don’t understand why that’s not happening,” Fauci said. “If you look at what’s going on in this country, I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that — we really should be.”

Reynolds said Fauci may not be aware of what Iowa is doing in lieu of such an order.

“Maybe he doesn’t have all the information,” she said. “You can’t just look at a map and assume no action has been taken … So, I would say to him, does he recognize that we have closed down all of the schools and we’ve actually done that through (April) 30? Is he aware of the various businesses that have been closed, restaurants and bars, through April 30, and that we have implemented no social gatherings of more than 10 people, that we have added additional closures to the orders that I have put in place based on data and metrics that we daily look at and move forward?”

During an emergency meeting Friday morning, the Iowa Board of Medicine voted unanimously to send Reynolds a letter recommending a shelter-in-place order for Iowa. Reynolds said she hadn’t yet seen the letter.

“You know, we always want to hear from medical professionals,” Reynolds said. “There is still some disconnect in terms of what we have done and what the expectations are, and actually what’s taking place in other states across this country. So, you know, (other states) haven’t shut down businesses, they haven’t shut down their entire state, they are keeping open essential businesses, people are allowed to go outside of their homes for groceries and for medical visits and for exercise if they do it responsibly.”

Reynolds said she hasn’t rejected any recommendations from the Iowa Department of Public Health, who she has credited with analyzing the metrics and data she is relying on to shape her decisions. “They are the experts,” she said.

The governor said she is using that data to make sure the state is “protecting the well-being of some of our most vulnerable Iowans,” but said she wasn’t aware of a March 26 letter sent to her by Disability Rights Iowa and Drake University’s Center for Children’s Rights regarding youth living in congregate settings.

The letter urges Reynolds to take immediate measures to better protect the youth in juvenile detention facilities, group homes and the state-run school for boys in Eldora from COVID-19. The Iowa Department of Human Services runs or oversees many of those facilities.

“I know that Director (Beth) Skinner has done a great job addressing many of those issues,” Reynolds said, referring to the director of the Iowa Department of Corrections, who has taken steps to protect adults in Iowa’s prison system. “And I know the director the Department of Human Services also has put many, many mitigation efforts in place.”

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.