U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today spoke about the hard work and dedication of Iowans – including essential workers, teachers, students, and volunteers – during COVID-19 and her continued efforts to support Iowans during this pandemic.
Ernst highlighted her bill to reward Iowa’s essential workers – the FRNT LINE Act – which would allow the folks who have kept our lives going and supply chains intact to keep more of their hard-earned dollars.
Senator Ernst’s full remarks are below:
“I want to thank my colleagues today, Senator from Mississippi, Senator from Kansas and so forth for coming down and spending just a little bit of time talking about the wonderful heroes we have in our home states. And we really do have so many of them.
“While the country anxiously awaits Washington to come together and pass an updated COVID relief package, we are truly blessed to have every day heroes back in our 50 states who are working around the clock to help out their neighbors.
“Essential workers haven’t taken a break. They’ve been keeping our country running—not just during this global pandemic, but every single day.
“I’ve heard it time and again…stories of Iowans helping Iowans.
“Folks are volunteering their time and talents to serve their communities and ensure no one feels alone during this time of social distancing.
“When my friend Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced that there was a shortage of face masks to protect frontline workers, Iowans—including my own mother—started sewing!
“Deb Siggins of Lisbon, Iowa, has made more than 400 masks that she has donated to a local hospital, her friends and co-workers, the local fire department, grocery store employees, and elderly patients.
“She has even turned a tree near her home into a “giving tree,” decorated with her homemade masks for people to take, which she is constantly updating.
“Deb plans to keep making the masks until they are no longer needed because she believes that sewing is her gift from God that she can use to help others.
“Mary Shotwell of Des Moines wanted to give back to those helping her during this pandemic.
“So, in “i-SEW-lation,” as she describes it, Mary sewed masks for her entire neighborhood and health care workers at Broadlawns Medical Center.
“But in addition to the demand for masks, there has also been an increased need for food, especially to feed our hungry kiddos.
“Linn-Mar teacher Carla Ironside, who hasn’t seen her students in the classroom since March, now sees some of them when they pick up meals at Feeding Lunches to Youth in Marion and Cedar Rapids where she volunteers.
“Carla says the opportunity to serve these meals helps calm her anxious mind…knowing her students are fed.
“She said “I get to see their smiles…and it helps me, and I think it helps them.”
“But it’s not just our wonderful teachers, students are doing their part, too.
“Allie Stutting of Princeton, Iowa, who is a University of Iowa student, launched an effort to mobilize her peers to serve and protect those at heightened risk.
“Worried about the threat COVID posed to her grandparents and the elderly, Allie set up a network of young people called the Iowa City Errand-ers to get groceries and food, pick up prescriptions, and run other errands for older folks and others in need.
“Allie’s idea has inspired an army of over 400 volunteers…yes 400 volunteers, folks.
“But the story of these every day heroes continue…
“To keep those who are venturing out safe, ambassadors from Operation Downtown are walking around Des Moines cleaning and sanitizing hand railings, door handles, parking meters, and other high-touch surfaces.
“Julie Skalberg, an Operation Downtown ambassador, explains it’s an effort to help folks feel secure, during what can be a very scary time.
“Despite the potential risk, Cynthia Allen—another Operation Downtown ambassador—says she feels that “it’s an honor to give back to our community.”
“Folks, the actions of these and many, many others like them who are pitching in and doing their part, are examples of what I like to call “Iowa Nice.”
“For each of them, serving others is not a chore but rather a gift greeted with gratitude.
“At a time filled with immeasurable uncertainty, these heartland heroes are bringing comfort to their communities, including complete strangers, many who are isolated and alone.
“Defeating this virus will require the development of an effective vaccine.
“And Iowa is helping lead the way in this effort.
“Right now, the hardworking folks at the University of Iowa’s Medical School are working with Pfizer to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
“And in the annual defense bill that recently passed the Senate, I helped increase funding for these types of studies and developments.
“The efforts of our bright young Iowa college students combined with the work of Operation Warp Speed and the administration – provides great hope for the future development of cures, treatments, and vaccines
“And now, as we wait for the results, let’s not forget the hope that the stories of our everyday COVID heroes bring.
“It’s the Iowa way.
“Stepping up and doing your part. Meeting the needs of, family, friends and even strangers.
“Folks, I’ve said it before, and I say it yet once again here today: We will get through these challenging times…and we will do it, together.”