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Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak first made its way to Iowa, our families, small businesses, and communities have been impacted in ways they have never been before. Like many of you, I spend time doing chores I have put off because I didn’t have “time”.  Well, now I do.  And I realize I was avoiding those chores just because I don’t want to do them.

Most people I talk to or hear from online are getting more eager to get our communities open again.  We all want to see friends and family.  We want to go to church or be able to socialize again.  People need to have health issues addressed.  We have been thinking about and planning for reopening our communities for a while now, and Iowans have some very safe strategies to get started.

I’ve been looking at some of the data on problems that have been set aside to focus on Coronavirus.  More prescriptions for antidepressants, antianxiety and sleep disorder medications are being requested.  Alcohol sales are increasing.  Kids are missing well-child visits and vaccinations.  The WHO cited global concerns with children not receiving the polio vaccine.  How many people have not benefitted from an early diagnosis and treatment of cancer or diabetes?  I appreciate the Governor working with hospitals and other care providers to be sure we have the PPE we need to maintain access to care and at the same time look to other health issues.  Mental health, activity, and our social well-being are so important, especially during these challenging times.

As the public health situation begins to improve and the time is right, we must begin the process of reopening Iowa’s economy and allow people back to work.  We should do this as quickly as we can in the safest way possible. Our communities need to be able to work together again.

While the vast majority of Iowans have largely remained healthy during this unprecedented time, we must continue to be smart about reopening the economy. We want to get people back to their families, social lives, churches, schools, and jobs as soon as possible and in a reasonable and responsible manner.

We should remember that the purpose of the stay at home plan was to make sure we didn’t overwhelm our health system.  Thanks to Iowans making smart choices, we did that.  Until we have a vaccine we won’t eradicate this illness but we can get back to a more normal Iowa if we are smart about it.

We can fight COVID-19 by adding health precautions to protect ourselves and each other but also get people back to families, friends, church and work and have Iowa thriving again.  I believe Iowans can do both!

Last week, President Trump released guidelines for reopening the economy, but he is leaving it up to individual states to determine their best course of action. This makes sense, especially when you look at how differently COVID-19 is impacting regions even inside a single state.

Governor Reynolds has indicated that when it is time to reopen, she may do so using a regional approach or on county-by-county basis. This strategy will help us manage “hot spots” in the state while also getting folks back to their normal lives in areas that haven’t been impacted as badly.

Iowans are resilient and genuinely want to look out for their friends and neighbors. We have seen an outpouring of support for our health care workers as individuals and businesses have stepped up to make face masks and shields. We have seen people supporting their local restaurants and small businesses in droves to make sure they are still around after COVID-19. We have seen communities come together to keep spirits up in the face of this invisible enemy.

There is no doubt that Iowa’s best days lie ahead!

Linda Upmeyer

Author: Linda Upmeyer