Kudos to Elizabeth Meyer at Iowa Starting Line for capturing this:
Iowa has the fourth-highest growth rate of coronavirus in the country and some of the nation’s largest numbers of cases per capita, yet in a recent interview with Breitbart, Sen. Joni Ernst said the state “has fared pretty well” during the pandemic.
“Iowa has fared pretty well. We are a very rural state, but some of the restrictions that have been put in place by our governor have worked quite well,” Ernst said during a radio interview last week. “We are of course saddened by the deaths that we have had, but we have not been hit nearly as hard as some of the more metro areas or coastal areas. We have had a couple of recent outbreaks at some of our meat processing facilities — because they are essential workers they continue going into work and being with each other every day — but overall Iowa has done very well through the pandemic.”
Iowa has confirmed outbreaks (positive cases among three or more residents) of COVID-19 at 23 long-term care facilities in Black Hawk, Bremer, Dallas, Dubuque, Jasper, Linn, Marshall, Muscatine, Polk, Poweshiek, Tama and Washington counties.
As for meatpacking plants and other commercial businesses, state officials classify the number of cases as an “outbreak” when at least 10% of workers report symptoms associated with COVID-19. The state’s coronavirus website does not track the number of workplaces experiencing a coronavirus outbreak, but reporting has shown large numbers of cases among employees at multiple Tyson facilities, Prestage Foods, JBS, National Beef Co.’s Iowa Premium, TPI Composites and Whirlpool, among others.
Here’s more evidence that Iowa isn’t “faring pretty well” during this pandemic. Louisa County:
The county of roughly 11,000 people went from zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the beginning of April to 166 on Wednesday. According to Louisa County Public Health, 148 of the county’s positive cases are associated with the outbreak at Tyson Foods in Columbus Junction.
This week, Louisa County surpassed New York state, home to the country’s largest outbreak, in positive cases per capita. New York has an infection rate of 1,031 per 100,000 residents compared to Louisa County’s rate of 1,328 per 100,000, according to data collected by the New York Times.
On April 6, Tyson said it would shut down the Columbus Junction pork plant for a week “due to more than two dozen cases of COVID-19 involving team members at the facility.” The plant is still closed.
Meatpacking plants across the country, including several in Iowa, have closed or scaled back their workforce in recent weeks as employees working shoulder-to-shoulder continue to test positive for COVID-19.
The executive order is likely to also include processing plants supplying beef, chicken, eggs and pork, according to Bloomberg.
Monday, in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and the Coronavirus Task Force, top Iowa officials “urgently” requested the Defense Production Act be used to keep meatpacking plants open.
“It is critical that plants continue to operate,” the letter, signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, Sens. Joni Ernst, Chuck Grassley and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, states. “Worker safety is paramount, and the packing industry is doing everything it can to ensure it and follow local, state and federal recommendations. We urge you to utilize every authority available to keep plants open, and to re-open closed facilities as it is possible to do so safely.”
Iowa is becoming a potential state for an upset Senate grab as Reuters explains:
Republican Senator Joni Ernst is favored in a state Trump won by nine percentage points, but both parties see the race as competitive. The top Democratic challenger, businesswoman Theresa Greenfield, nearly matched Ernst in fundraising in the first quarter.
P.S. Theresa Greenfield’s (D. IA) campaign picked up a big endorsement today:
Let’s get rid of Ernst and flip the Senate blue. Click below to donate to Greenfield or your Iowa Democratic candidate of your choice: