Iowa governor visits White House to talk reopening economy


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds headed to the White House Wednesday to talk about her strategy to reopen her state’s economy.

But with Iowa still dealing with the virus, some Democrats from her state say the Republican governor’s celebratory visit is premature.

Reynolds said increased testing and sophisticated contact tracing gives her confidence to begin phase two of reopening the economy.

“In March, we were able to do about 300 tests a day. In April, we were able to do about 1,300 tests a day and we’re up to almost 3,000 right now,” she said. “We eased the mitigation efforts in 77 counties and we left the same restrictions in place in 22 because that’s where we’re seeing 85% of our positive cases.”

She also praised President Donald Trump’s recent executive order forcing meat processing plants — where there have been outbreaks — to remain open. Reynolds said the ones in Iowa should return to full capacity next week.

“We’re going to hopefully prevent what would have been a really sorry situation where we were euthanizing some of our protein supply,” the governor said.

She said workers will be tested before entering plants and will have to wear masks.

U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, said she’s still worried about safety, though, and has called on the president to utilize the Defense Production Act to ensure workers have enough personal protection equipment.

Reynolds said she went to the White House to thank Trump for helping Iowans fight the virus, but Democrats in her state argue it’s too soon to claim victory.

“I don’t think that this is time for a photo op in Washington, D.C.,” Iowa Democratic Party Chair Mark Smith said. “We have Iowans who are under a serious situation here.”

He said people are still contracting the virus and dying and that testing is still behind.

“It’s too little, too late,” he said.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, said she was “deeply concerned the governor’s guidance on reopenings will … potentially cause second waves of cases.”

Reynolds said testing capacity will keep improving and that the state is on the right track.

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