Reynolds addresses protests, COVID-19 and state budget

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

DES MOINES Gov. Kim Reynolds had comments and information on the protests in Iowa in response to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and COVID-19.

"Hundreds of people gathered in several communities across the state in peaceful protests to speak their mind have their voices heard," she said. "Thank you to all of those who exercised their right to protest in a peaceful and responsible way. At some events, agitators again attempted to detract from the message and resort to violence. While law enforcement disarmed most situations, damage did occur."

She noted those types of actions do absolutely nothing to create solutions and move forward and they are not going to be tolerated.

"I again want to thank the community leaders and law enforcement who have been on the front lines working so hard to establish and maintain a dialogue and prevent violence and again, allow peaceful protests to take place," Reynolds said. "Progress starts with each of us. It means listening and understanding and sometimes pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone. As I said yesterday, I am committed to helping move these conversations forward towards action for change."

Reynolds then moved on to talk about the state's continuing response to COVID-19.

She reported nearly 164,000 Iowans have been tested, for a per capita rate of 1 in 19.

The state's largest test day was Saturday, May 30, when the state lab processed 5,223 tests, surpassing its 5,000 per day test capacity.

"Last week saw an increase in positive cases in Buena Vista County as a Test Iowa site opened and testing was done on long-term care facilities and manufacturing employees," Reynolds said.

Crawford County is another county where a Test Iowa site was set up. On a per capita basis, 1 in 9 residents have now been tested, Reynolds said.

"Of the 528 total positive cases, 323 are now reported as recovered, and positive cases are trending down," she said.

Getting PPE supplies out to all areas of the state is a project the governor is also promoting.

"I am pleased to report that the state is partnering with the Iowa Emergency Management Association and county emergency managers statewide to distribute and build six regional PPE stockpiles to ensure regional and local preparedness for any future events," she said.

Stockpiles will have a have 30 day supply of PPE for each county in the region.

Additionally, the state is transitioning to offer a 14-day supply of PPE in support of county requests.

"Previously due to shortages, the state had only been able to offer PPE in smaller 7-day supply quantities," she said.

Reynolds said returning to her office at the state capitol building on Friday was like opening a time capsule, since she had left it March and the state was in the very early stages of COVID-19 response.

About decisions made at that time and since then, Reynolds said, "extraordinary times called for extraordinary measures," whether it was concern over test supplies and low PPE numbers, to how healthcare professionals would be able to cope with the pandemic.

Since that time, response had led to many public/private partnerships.

"I am proud of what our team accomplished and I am grateful to Iowans who have taken their role and responsibility seriously as well. We learned a lot over the past few months and will continue to as we manage COVID-19 for the long term. The pandemic is not over and there remains much work to do," Reynolds said.

While that work will continue, Reynolds said now is the time to focus on balancing the health and safety of all Iowans with Iowa's economic recovery and the business of our state, which does include, this week, resuming the legislative session.

On Wednesday, legislators return to work after the session was suspended in March due to COVID-19. Reynolds said she is looking forward to finishing the state budget and addressing a range of other issues.

She said the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) has given a better picture of the economic impact of COVID-19 and how it has impacted the state's bottom line. The REC estimates a reduction in state revenue for 2021 of .8 percent, or $65 million.

"Although sharply different from where we were a few months ago, it's manageable. Because of the fiscal responsible approach we have taken to budgeting in recent years, we are in a solid position with cash reserves that are full. It is going to be important for us to continue to budget conservatively, keeping the focus on key priorities that support Iowa's economic recovery, such as Work Force Development, behavioral health services and rural broadband access," she said.

The Invest In Iowa act was introduced at the beginning the session, but circumstances have changed and Reynolds said that plan will need to be put on the back burner, but will be back in the future.

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