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Ernst, Greenfield Disagree On Whether Iowa Should Have A Mask Mandate

Clay Masters
Theresa Greenfield, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, talks with a farmer in northwest Iowa in early August.

The two major party candidates for U.S. Senate in Iowa disagree on whether there should be a statewide mask mandate. Earlier this month, President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force recommended to state leaders that they implement a mask mandate.

Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, who is running her first re-election campaign, does not think a statewide mask mandate is necessary to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa. She says it’s about personal responsibility.

“I don’t think the government should be all do all end all and tell us how to live our lives,” Ernst said. “I think they should encourage it and we should use our best judgment when and where we wear a mask.”

Ernst says she wears a mask in public.

Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Senator Joni Ernst
Clay Masters
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst introduced Vice President Mike Pence at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, during his re-election visit to Iowa on Aug. 13.

Ernst’s Democratic challenger, real estate executive Theresa Greenfield, says a mask mandate in Iowa would make sense.

“That kind of mandate would really make it clear to all Iowans the kind of actions that they can take to help themselves and help our communities be safe,” Greenfield said.

Both Des Moines and Iowa City have issued citywide face-coverings mandates. The cities of Dubuque, Mount Vernon and Muscatine have also issued mask mandates. More than 30 states currently have them.

Ernst and Greenfield made their comments during interviews that aired this week on Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition.

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter.