Democrat State Sen. Joe Bolkcom heavily criticized Republicans and Gov. Kim Reynolds for their handling of the COVID-19 crisis. He criticized the bill
“Kim Reynolds and legislative Republicans have failed to protect Iowans from a deadly virus,” Bolkcom said. “Your failure to keep Iowans safe is why so many people have retired early and why Iowa employers can’t find enough workers.”
Bolkcom said 117 more Iowans were reported dead from COVID in the past week. He noted 81 percent of the ICU patients with COVID are unvaccinated.
“Who’s paying for all this health care,” Bolkcom asked. “How many of these people are on the Medicaid program? How many are on private insurance with employers picking up huge medical bills?”
Bolkcom said just 52.5 percent of Iowans are fully vaccinated and “thousands and thousands” of the 1.7 million Iowans who are fully vaccinated “feel unsafe returning to work or resuming normal consumption patterns.”
“People are not stupid. They do not have death wishes,” Bolkcom said.
He added that the strategies of trusting Iowans to do the right thing and learning how to live with COVID are failing.
“As long as 40 percent of Iowans are not willing to get vaccinated, businesses will struggle to find employees and more Iowans will die,” Bolkcom said. “I thought that you guys were the party of life. Every life is sacred. The sanctity of life. We probably have 2,000 more deaths in Iowa because of your approach to COVID.”
Bolkcom claimed more Iowans are refusing to live with COVID and are instead staying home, not going shopping, not going out to eat, retiring early and not going back to work because “someone has decided not to get vaccinated.”
“Who wants to go to work or into the community and come home with a deadly disease because someone has decided not to get vaccinated,” he asked. “To make matters even worse, Reynolds and Republicans have now teamed up with a loud, militant, anti-vax minority to actually discourage people from getting vaccinated. And Gov. Reynolds continues to spread falsehoods about masks, vaccines and immunity.”
Bolkcom said it reminds him of Republicans “taking the side” of smokers over the health of the majority 20 years ago.
“Back then it was about freedom and liberty,” he said. “Republicans delayed progress for years in attacking the leading cause of death in Iowa. By the way, tobacco still the leading cause of death, only actually surpassed by COVID. Republicans didn’t care then. They’re making the same argument and mistake today defending an extreme minority over the health and well-being of the majority. They were wrong then and you are wrong now. Your indifference to keeping Iowans safe is crippling our health care system.”
“People that have been vaccinated want the freedom and liberty to live without having to worry about getting COVID from somebody that’s not vaccinated. Does that make sense? People that are vaccinated don’t want to get COVID. Don’t the vaccinated have a right not to die or get sick because somebody is walking around unvaccinated? When are you going to start representing the people that actually got vaccinated and are helping getting the economy back on track? When are you going to do it?”
Bolkcom said Republicans need to support strategies to get every adult and every child vaccinated.
“Stop pandering to the people that are keeping this pandemic going strong,” he said. “Getting more people vaccinated is the only thing that will end the death and it’s the only thing that’s going to make people feel comfortable to re-enter the community and go back to work.”