Iowa governor ends emergency powers

Iowa governor ends emergency powers

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said after two years of COVID-19 mitigations and a sharp decline in rates, she believes Iowans will make the safe choices without laws forcing them. Pritzker does not share that confidence in Illinoisans.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced she will lift her state’s emergency public health disaster status on Feb. 15, joining the 24 other governors nationwide who have allowed COVID-19 emergency orders to expire as the pandemic wanes.

Reynolds said in a statement that Iowa cannot continue to treat COVID-19 as a public health emergency indefinitely. She believes Iowans will make the right choices for themselves and their communities.

“After two years, it’s no longer feasible or necessary,” she said. “The flu and other infectious illnesses are part of our everyday lives, and coronavirus can be managed similarly.”

Iowa now joins the majority of Midwest states no longer operating under pandemic emergency rule. In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker offered no end in sight to his statewide pandemic protocols, despite a rapid decline in COVID-19 metrics statewide.

Pritzker issued his 23rd state disaster proclamation Jan. 7, again extending his executive emergency powers over state operations. At the end of this 30-day period, Illinois will have been declared a pandemic disaster for 697 consecutive days.

Using these emergency powers, the governor has been able to circumvent deliberation in the General Assembly by signing executive orders temporarily into law and reissuing these mandates monthly. Pritzker has issued over 100 executive health orders in the name of combatting the pandemic – but as COVID rates sharply decline, questions about when he will yield that power back to elected officials remains.

When asked Jan. 19 what threshold for COVID metrics Illinois would need to reach for Pritzker to lift mitigations, he dodged the question, redirecting it to the state’s top doctor. She said Illinoisans would know when the governor had a plan.

Previous attempts by news media to ask Pritzker the same question were met with similarly vague responses.

“There’s always something that we need to be monitoring about this pandemic because as you’ve seen that even though we have vaccines available there is a good number of people in our population who are not yet vaccinated,” Pritzker said July 26 to Illinois Capitol News.

“What’s important is to keep the people of Illinois healthy and safe, and that’s making sure people get vaccinated,” he said.

Almost two years under pandemic mitigations have yet to give Pritzker the control he wants over the population and its response to COVID-19. How much more time will be required to change that is a mystery Iowa’s governor has solved.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!