Democratic U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer said she’s disappointed that Gov. Kim Reynolds has not issued a “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” order, despite promising to do so three weeks ago.
“In my district in particular, we make the country’s food. It is our meat processing. It is General Mills where we make cereal. It is so much a big part of that, I knew we had to do everything we could to keep those essential workers safe. I’ve been disappointed at the lack of urgency here from the state,” Finkenauer said.
The Iowa Department of Public Health divides the state into six regions for the purposes of monitoring COVID-19 cases. Region 6 includes most of Rep. Finkenauer’s 1st Congressional District, including the cities of Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Duqubue. Today, the governor issued new restrictions on social gatherings there beginning at midnight.
Finkenauer said she was assured that when Region 6 reached a certain threshold, a shelter-in-place order would be issued. She said she applauds the governor for closing schools and taking other steps, but says refusing to issue a formal order creates more confusion.
“It’s not the time for confusion right now. We need to have some certainty here, when there is so much confusion and uncertainty about so many parts of life. And I’m just disappointed the governor didn’t follow through on what she said she was going to do when we asked about this three weeks ago,” Finkenauer said.
The congresswoman also said she’s working to include enforceable rules and safety standards for employers of essential workers in the next stimulus package. She’s also calling for hazard pay for essential workers and an expansion of rapid testing amid COVID-19 outbreaks in several meat processing plants across the state.
She points to the Tyson plant in Waterloo as a place of concern.
"I’ve talked to state representatives who represent that area who are hearing from folks who are scared to talk about what is going on because they are afraid about their jobs,” said Finkenauer.
“I’ll be putting a letter in to the Department of Labor and also OSHA asking what are they doing and how are we increasing these standards. And to be frank with you, it’s also ridiculous that the CDC has not issued read guidance to our food processing plants. We have guidance for the airline industry, but not for folks in our food processing plants. That makes no sense,” she said.