Metzger: A woman in red

Columnist Logan Metzger condemns Gov. Kim Reynolds for her removing the mask policy in Iowa. 

Logan Metzger

A woman in red. A red political party, a red state, a red blazer. A woman responsible for the lives of 3,200,000 Americans. A woman standing among the bodies of 5,000. This woman is named Kim Reynolds and her hands are about to be redder.

On Feb. 5, Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa signed a new public health proclamation, effectively removing all COVID-19 protections for the state. Yeah you heard that right, the governor of a state currently in the throws of a pandemic is deciding that it is time to backtrack on protections.

Honestly this is not surprising coming from the state that is ranked No. 47 in the country for its vaccine distribution, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is worse than all other states except Idaho and Missouri. I guess Reynolds is really trying to keep all us red states together.

But yeah, let us go look at that new public health proclamation and see what our dear governor has done. 

Unsurprisingly and extremely disappointingly, Kim “Reaper” Reynolds decided that masks are worthless. She has, literally, removed all requirements surrounding masks at every location. 

Well that is unless you have a medical condition or are over the age of 65, then you are “strongly encouraged” to wear a mask outside your home. “Strongly encouraged” is like putting a Hello Kitty Band-Aid on a gunshot wound, it is nowhere near the needed action and is actually incredibly dangerous. “Strongly encouraged” is not enforceable, it is not actionable, however it is a good way to shift blame away from herself. 

Because now, any person above the age of 65 or who has a medical condition who dies, she can just say that it was their fault. “I encouraged them to wear masks, what more was I supposed to do?” These are your people, you are supposed to look after them, you are supposed to protect them. Any person who now gets COVID-19 from someone not wearing a mask, their illness, their death is now on your hand Gov. Reynolds. Your hands are already red with the blood of 5,000 Iowans, the stain will only become redder.

Oh but not only do Iowans no longer have to wear masks, but Iowans will no longer be held to 15 people for indoor gatherings, or 30 if outdoors. This means that not only do people not have to social distance, but they don’t have to wear masks while doing it. We are still in a pandemic, people are still getting sick, people are still dying. Now is not the time for birthday parties, now is not the time for weddings, now is not the time for raging frat parties.

Oh, but wait, I am forgetting Reynolds did “strongly encourage” event organizers to take reasonable measures to protect the health of their guests as well as the public. So that’s good right? Yeah, not really. She is once again taking the blame away from herself. She is putting the effort and due diligence onto others. She is saying that she really doesn’t care. She has hung up her governor hat, because we Iowans aren’t worth anything to her.

All of this is then compounded by the fact that the Iowa Department of Public Health reported three confirmed cases of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom. This variant is so new that we barely know what it is, but it is believed to spread easier than the original strain of COVID-19. Did you hear that Gov. Reynolds? It spreads easier, meaning that all of the non-mask wearing you are now promoting will increase the spread rate of this new variant even faster.

I am just completely dumbfounded that we are this far into this pandemic and our governor has decided to make these decisions. Decisions that will undoubtedly harm more Iowans. Decisions that will lead to the deaths of more Iowans. Decisions that will lead to chaos and confusion as some Iowans support masks and others oppose them.

Kim Reynolds, I hope you are able to face the consequences as more Iowans die because of your decisions. I hope you are able to stand the stain on your hands. A stain representing every life lost in your state due to this virus, a stain we will not forget.

But my disgust is not just with Gov. Reynolds here, because anyone who chooses not to wear a mask, anyone who chooses to not social distance, y’all are just as complicit. When you choose not to wear a mask you are risking the lives of everyone you come in contact with, every child, every immunocompromised person, every elderly person. Their blood is on your hands too. If you aren’t ready for the stain, wear a mask.