The biggest story you're not paying attention to


The biggest story we think you may not be paying attention to quietly got swept up in the news cycle last week.

The Iowa Department of Public Health's interim director Kelly Garcia added to the Jan. 11 recommendations from the Infectious Disease Advisory Council on continued rollouts of the two available COVID vaccines.

Now you need to be paying attention to this move. You really do.

Not only did the Centers for Disease Control recommend to states that they open up vaccines to everyone 65 and older, but they said data on vaccines supplies indicated there would be sufficient supply in the coming three to four weeks to handle the boosters as well.

Initially 50% of the supplies had been being held back for boosters for those who already had the vaccine. Pfizer's vaccines requires a booster at 21 days and Moderna's requires another shot at 28 days.

Garcia said in her release about the recommendations that Iowa was taking a wait-and-see approach to the supply and demand, regardless of what the CDC was recommending.

But wait, even though Garcia, by way of taking the wait-and-see approach, said the state wasn't totally confident in CDC's supply outlook, she moved the staff and officials conducting business at the Iowa Capitol building into the Phase 1B rollout, ahead of many other Iowans at greater risk of severe illness.

"Once we have reasonable confidence that supply meets the demands of this broader eligibility criteria, we will activate the broader distribution criteria. From the very beginning from this distribution effort, it has been our goal to reach all Iowans," Garcia wrote in a Jan 12. letter to IDAC Chair Ken Sharp.

So that can only mean one thing. Despite their lack of confidence in the state being able to get enough vaccines to those 65 to 75 years of age, who would arguably be more vulnerable to a severe illness than, say, a 20-year-old intern making copies at the Capitol with no underlying illness, she's gonna vaccinate the Capitol.

That intern now gets moved to the front of the line for a vaccine, bumping, in theory (or not) a 72-year-old woman with Type 2 diabetes living at home alone helping care for her 10-year-old granddaughter who attends public school.

We choose to read this as - we're gonna take care of all of us, and then we're gonna take care of some of you.

This, and I'm stealing from Fort Madison Mayor Matt Mohrfeld who's used this line on other topics and not in this context, - is why people don't like government.

The same Garcia letter to Sharp said, she was adding "back in" the recommendation to include "Government officials, including staff, to ensure continuity of government, engaged in state business at the Iowa Capitol during the legislative session."

We couldn't find the context of "back in" but it's safe to assume at some point it was pulled out of a recommendation.

"In addition to accepting the recommendations from IDAC, I am adding the following additional narrowly defined, eligible populations for Phase 1B:
●Inspectors responsible for health, life and safety, including those in hospital and long-term care settings, child, and food production safety
●Government officials, including staff, to ensure continuity of government, engaged in state business at the Iowa Capitol during the legislative session.
I have added both of these categories back in, given the national news of expected additional supply and factors that jeopardize the ability of the Iowa Legislature’s important work as well as those who support that work."

Here is a link to Garcia's letter from Jan. 12:

Here's Garcia's phone number 515-281-7689.

It can be interpreted, that the added recommendations are open-ended to any government official who conducts business at the capitol, whether their office is actually located in the Capitol or not.

Oh, and according to a Sunday Des Moines Register report, 2021 Iowa legislative protocols do not require anyone doing business at the Iowa Capitol building to wear a mask.

Geesh. If you were so concerned about the continuity of government and are willing to elbow past our parents and grandparents - shouldn't you be at least wearing a mask?

We are lost right now. But I guess that's Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is the editor and co-owner of the Pen City Current and can be reached by email at

beside the point, Column, opinion


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