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U.S. Rep. Axne Calls On Gov. Reynolds To 'Step Up' Iowa's COVID-19 Response

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Clay Masters
/
IPR File
U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne speaks at the 2020 Polk County Democrats' Steak Fry. The annual event was held as a drive-in fundraiser because of the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-West Des Moines, said Wednesday that she’s heard troubling stories from many of her constituents in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District about trying to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

States are responsible for distributing the coronavirus vaccine which they receive from the federal government. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced last week that the state had scrapped plans with Microsoft for a centralized vaccine registration system, after she had unveiled the plan the week prior.

“The governor needs to step up and get a process in place,” Axne said. “We need mass vaccination sites. We need to be able to call a hotline number and then get sorted out to the appropriate locations and be put in queue then for your vaccination so that you know you’re on a waiting list.”

Iowa is now weeks into Phase 1B of distributing the coronavirus vaccine. That phase includes more than a half million Iowans ages 65 and older. Many Iowans have expressed frustration in the challenges of signing up for a COVID-19 vaccination in the state.

Reynolds has said the state determined the new system would cause too much disruption to current systems in place and said it will now work to strengthen existing programs, like the statewide 211 hotline.

Meanwhile, Axne says she plans to vote “yes” on the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package backed by President Joe Biden. The bill includes an effort to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Axne said it’s time to raise the minimum wage.

“I know $15 overnight wouldn’t work in certain parts of our state though,” Axne told Iowa Public Radio. “I do want to make sure that we phase an increase in over a period of time so we don’t hurt those small businesses and some of those industries.”

Axne said she would look to some tax credits for businesses.

Meanwhile, Iowa’s three Republican have not supported the $15 minimum.

“[A $15/hour minimum wage] would force rural Main Street businesses like hardware stores, grocery stores, and bakeries to close their doors,” 4th District Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Hull, said in a statement.

NPR reports the minimum wage provision and one for expanded paid sick leave pose a major hurdle in the U.S. Senate because of more centrist Democrats.