Governor Kim Reynolds says Covid case numbers in Iowa are at a 10 month low, the number of Iowa hospital patients being treated for Covid is down 90% from the high point in November, and about half the state’s adults are fully vaccinated.
“Life really is getting back to normal,” Reynolds said during a news conference late this morning, “and all around us, there are more signs of it.”
Reynolds says it’s time “to lean further into normal” and that’s why she has declared that the $300 extra in federal benefits for unemployment Iowans will end June 12.
“Jobs are readily available and employers are eager to hire,” Reynolds said, “and it’s time to get back to work.”
House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard called the governor’s move “heartless” and, in a written statement, Prichard said it shows Reynolds is willing to use vulnerable Iowans “as a stepping stone for her own political gain.”
During today’s news conference, Reynolds stressed that regular state unemployment will continue. And, to other critics who say more Iowans would join the workforce if businesses offered better pay, Reynolds countered that the market is taking care of that.
“I love it when I have businesses tell me they’re having some of their best years ever and they’ve got orders that are waiting to be filled,” Reynolds said. “They just can’t find employees to help build the equipment, so I think these are great jobs, they have benefits, there’s opportunities for growth…and you’re seeing wages adjust accordingly.”
The governor indicated “many” but not all state employees who’ve been working from home will be returning to their offices in the coming weeks. State agencies are assessing which jobs can be done remotely, according to Reynolds.
“I’m excited about that because I think that opens up the application pool statewide,” Reynolds said, “and that gives people that don’t necessarily live in the metro areas the opportunity to be a state employee.”
Reynolds told reporters she plans to meet with businesses and organizations over the next few days to discuss how all can return to “more normal” work, business and entertainment experiences.
“There’s no reason for us to fear Covid-19 any longer,” Reynolds said. “We know how to manage it and individuals can be trusted to make decisions that will keep us on a path forward. I believe Iowans are ready to live our lives more fully again and I think we’ve earned it.”
Reynolds made her comments late this morning during a news conference held at the Food Bank of Iowa to highlight the state’s response to increased demand at food pantries and food banks. Officials say more than 400,000 Iowans are food insecure and the need for food assistance is 50% higher than than it was two years ago.