Above photo: Bryon Houlgrave/The Register.
As confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to increase in Iowa, activists and community members sent Gov. Kim Reynolds nearly a thousand “failing report cards” during a Friday afternoon demonstration to speak out against the governor’s response to the pandemic.
Over a dozen demonstrators gathered in front of the Governor’s Terrace Hill mansion for a planned action by community organization Iowa CCI demanding a statewide mask mandate and more leadership from the governor.
“She’s been a total failure in her inability to show leadership and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the state of Iowa,” said Cherie Mortice, Iowa CCI Action Fund Board President. “She needs to stand up and she needs to represent the everyday needs of Iowans today.”
Iowa surpassed 200,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and another 25 people died from COVID-19, the state reported Friday.
During the event, demonstrators walked up to the Governor’s mansion to deliver 800 report cards that gave Reynolds an “F” grade in COVID-19 mitigation and protecting Iowans. The report cards were not directly given to Reynolds. An Iowa State Patrol officer received the report cards and told demonstrators he would pass them along to the governor.
Mortice, who helped organize Friday’s demonstration, called Reynolds’ leadership “reckless and irresponsible.”
“She is refusing to listen to infectious disease specialists here in the state of Iowa who have been pleading with her to take decisive action and to mandate masks … We need clear directive because we have a lot of people who are really confused,” Mortice continued.
Other than Reynolds’ resistance in issuing a statewide mask mandate, demonstrators took particular issue with the way COVID-19 mitigation has been handled in Iowa’s schools.
Renee Welk, a former teacher, told the Register she attended the event to show support for other teachers who have been working tirelessly during the pandemic.
“We want them to have safety when they go back to school and to be able to feel secure, and to know that people do care and appreciate their work,” Welk said.
In addition to delivering the report cards to Reynolds, demonstrators were socially distanced and masked as they held signs in front of the Governor’s mansion, alongside Grand Avenue, for passersby to see.
Some signs read: “Still testing (negative)? Don’t worry! Kim Reynolds is still our governor,” and “Is there a vaccine for (COVID-19 mismanagement)?”
Reynolds recently issued a proclamation that requires masks in certain settings, with many exceptions: For instance, restaurants, bars, schools, gyms and grocery stores do not fall under Reynolds’ proclamation. Meanwhile, weddings, sporting events, and holiday gatherings must follow mask rules.
Iowa CCI launched a petition for a statewide mask mandate, claiming over 6,000 have signed, according to a news release regarding Friday’s demonstration.