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All right western Iowa, I’m done.  I’m done with the Covid-19 crisis, pandemic, scamdemic, whatever you want to call it.  The virus is real and it’s serious. But the government’s response at ALL levels is not.

When your legislature paused the session on March 17, the unknown was our greatest fear.  We literally feared losing the lives of our oldest members of our families, communities and the legislature.  “Experts” warned us the hospitals would overflow and others with life-threatening conditions would go without beds and care.  Monitoring stations with Iowans in protective equipment were even taking our temperatures and screening us before entering the Capitol.  Given the vast unknowns of Covid-19, along with the conservative sentiment that Iowans do not need a legislature to govern their daily lives, we decided to suspend session and monitor the situation.  The next morning Iowa was locked down for nonessential services.

The next months can only be described as a bad end-of-civilization movie.  Hospitals sat empty without elective surgeries and critical care beds reserved for Covid cases went unfilled.  Mom & pop retailers were shut down as major retailers and grocery stores went on about their business – without mask requirements.  I received calls from directors of the Chambers of Commerce and business owners pleading for me to find a way to declare certain businesses “essential.”  Other businesses called to ask me to decree their industry be closed so they could “be safe” without losing customers to competitors who decided to stay open.  I couldn’t believe this could happen in America – in Iowa!

As days turned into weeks, information changed constantly.  One month masks were considered unnecessary, the next month masks are the only thing keeping us all from certain death.  Some information stated the virus is carried by water droplets. Other claims said it was airborne. If you caught the virus you may well end up on a ventilator, of which the country is short.  But the worst miscalculation of the whole mess was: It will only take a two-week shutdown to prevent our health care system from becoming overwhelmed.  We had to surrender our freedom in order to “flatten the curve” as everyone would repeatedly say.

Given the unknowns, I do not blame any governor or legislature for the drastic measures taken in March.  We just didn’t know, and the population mostly complied for the same reason.  But we do know now.  Government failed.  Not in the beginning, but for not listening to the people they serve and getting out of the way once the true lack of severity was known.  Covid-19 is dangerous, but mostly only to certain people. We now know that the vast majority of deaths are among our oldest citizens, usually with one or more weakening conditions.  Among the working population, as often as not, the individual has minor or no debilitating effects.

To make matters worse, government has interfered with our health care system in ways that will actually cause harm to the very people it is trying to keep safe.  New Medicare regulations require additional and unnecessary twice-a-week testing in non-infected care facilities but make no allowance for the time this takes staff from caring for residents.  Additional requirements are driving caregivers away from the industry due to mandatory double shifts and even more unreasonable record-keeping, which makes meeting state and federal requirements even harder.  All in non-infected care facilities.  Government is making things harder, not safer.

All of this is made more frustrating due to the obvious political implications of the Covid issue.  Social distancing doesn’t seem to matter while allegedly peaceful protestors are flipping a car on its side.  According to the national media logic, violent protests do not spread the virus, but church services must be banned for months.

The amount of government overreach we have become accustomed to has become the most dangerous part of the Covid-19 scare.  Private sector entities have the right to overreact as they see fit.  But government is bound by the U.S. Constitution and the Iowa Constitution to respect citizens and allow them to live their lives freely if they do not harm others.  Catching a bug, no matter how contagious, does not meet this standard.  I have lived these events with you and trusted our elected officials to handle this in your best interest. I do not believe it was ­­dangerous enough to restrict your rights as an American for more than the first two weeks.

Author: Jason Schultz

State Sen. Jason Schultz served three terms in the House prior to being elected to the Iowa Senate. Schultz served seven years in the National Guard and served as volunteer fire fighter for the Schleswig Volunteer FD for 13 years, two years as the department's chief.