Iowa Poll: 54% approve of Reynolds’ pandemic approach as COVID-19 cases decline

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By Katie Akin, Iowa Capital Dispatch

COVID-19 cases are going down and Gov. Kim Reynolds’ approval rating is going up, according to a newly released Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll.

A majority of Iowans, 51%, said they approved of Reynolds’ job performance as governor. That’s up 5 percentage points since March.  

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Over half of Iowans also approved of the way Reynolds handled the COVID-19 pandemic, the poll found. She gained 7 percentage points on that question: 47% of Iowans said in March that they approved of her approach to COVID-19, and 54% approved in June.

The results come as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths wane in Iowa. The New York Times reported Wednesday that the rate of hospitalizations fell by 38% over the last two weeks. Deaths fell by 33% and cases fell by 31% in the same time period. Just 38 patients in the state are hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19, according to Iowa Department of Public Health data.

Businesses and schools in Iowa reopened fully several months before the vaccine was widely available. Reynolds ended the state’s mask mandate in February, when 6.5% of Iowans had received a shot of the vaccine. In May, she signed legislation to forbid cities, counties and schools from imposing mask mandates.

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As demand for testing declines, the state will also end its drive-through testing program. Instead, the Iowa Department of Public Health will send at-home test kits upon request.

Reynolds said Wednesday that the at-home testing system was being finalized and would become available as the drive-through sites close. 

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“It doesn’t make sense to keep that infrastructure in place for the minimal amount of use, but we wanted to make sure that Iowans still had the options,” she said. 

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Several private companies, like Hy-Vee and Walgreens, will continue to offer COVID-19 tests after the state’s Test Iowa sites close.

When asked whether the state would be able to restart testing if there was a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, Reynolds said Iowa “would be able to adjust as necessary.”

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National public health officials have warned that COVID-19 cases could spike again as a more contagious Delta variant grows in the U.S. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert,  warned Tuesday that the Delta variant is poised to be the dominant strain in the country within weeks. 

Fauci said vaccines in the U.S. are effective against the Delta variant.

The World Health Organization warned Monday that the strain will “pick off” the most vulnerable people in places with low vaccination rates and emphasized the importance of vaccine distribution worldwide. 

In Iowa, nearly 60% of adults are fully vaccinated, according to a New York Times database, but Reynolds acknowledged the rate had “really slowed down.”

“We’re just going to continue to keep reminding people that if they haven’t got a vaccination, we still encourage them to do that,” she said.

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