BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DES MOINES – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds called on Congress Tuesday to “get to work” and get a comprehensive relief package put together as Iowa businesses and families struggle in the midst of the COVID pandemic.
At a press conference Tuesday, Reynolds said the state has to allocate the remainder of it’s CARES funding, which was part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress in March, by Dec. 31.
Reynolds said the state doesn’t have the financial ability to make Iowa’s businesses and families whole again, and Congress will have to step forward.
“It’s time for Congress to come together and get a relief package passed and get some relief to small businesses and Iowa families who are suffering,” Reynolds said.
Colorado, New Mexico, Washington and Minnesota are some of the states considering repurposing CARES funding or tapping their own budgets.
Reynolds said the state is looking at the best ways to allocate the remainder of the state’s allocation.
“Unfortunately there is not enough state funding to make everyone whole and that’s the reality were dealing with,” Reynolds said this morning.
“This is something that Congress needs to do. They need to step up and do their job. They need to come together and get it figured out and get relief sent to states for our small businesses and Iowans suffering from COVID-19, again, at no fault of their own.”
Reynolds said she continues to meet daily with staff to determine the best way to allocate the remaining funding, including some possible stop-gap measures with local businesses.
Coronavirus numbers have been on the decline across most of the state over the past 10 days, and Reynolds pointed to the increased mitigation efforts prior to Thanksgiving as part of the reason.
In Lee County, as of yesterday at 3:30 p.m. 105 people had tested positive since Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., a span of five days. Lee County’s current positivity rate is 16.5%, still over the 15% threshold required for schools to apply for remote learning.
However, all three county school systems have some sort of in-person learning as of Tuesday. Central Lee will go to a hybrid model starting Dec. 13. Fort Madison went back to 100% in-person learning on Tuesday. Holy Trinity stayed with in-person learning. All families in those districts have the option to choose remote learning.
“I am pleased to see that we’re seeing steady signs of improvement, but still have much work to do,” Reynolds said.
Iowa had hospitalization rates near 32% in the past two weeks and had a high daily hospitalization count of 1,510. She said new reports show the positivity rate across the state back down to 15%. Even with testing and analyzing stopped on Thursday for the holiday, she said 95,000 Iowans were tested last week. The state has seen 2,427 deaths associated with the virus.
Long-term care facilities are still seeing high numbers of cases across the state and Reynolds said the Iowa Department of Public Health and Department of Inspections and Appeals are working to get those situations under control.
With national news daily on the progress of vaccines, Reynolds said staff is in contact with vaccine providers and national distribution systems and will provide more information on what that rollout will look like in the coming days and weeks.
“It’s incredible in this challenging year that a vaccine is coming to Iowa,” Reynolds said.