Iowa governor who declared victory over coronavirus now quarantining after White House visit

Iowa governor who declared victory over coronavirus now quarantining after White House visit
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue meets with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, on left and Iowa U.S. Senator Joni Ernst on right at the Iowa Ag Summit in Des Moines, IA on Friday, Aug. 5, 2017. USDA photo by Darin Leach.

The day before Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds took a big coronavirus victory lap at the White House last week, she collaborated with four other Republican governors on writing Washington Post op-ed in which they effectively declared "mission accomplished."

Now Reynolds is undergoing a modified quarantine plan after being exposed to a top aide to Vice President Mike Pence who tested positive for COVID-19 last week. It's quite a turn for Reynolds, whose White House visit was intended to reassure Americans that the spike in outbreaks at meatpacking plants wouldn’t disrupt the nation’s food supply chain.

Of course, part of ensuring those meatpacking plants continue to be operational is a tag-team effort by Trump and Reynolds to make sure certain employees at those plants don't have the same option to stay home if they don't feel it's safe to go to work. Trump finally pulled the trigger on the Defense Production Act at the end of April to force meatpacking plants to remain open no matter how dangerous the working conditions were. Around the same time, Reynolds announced she would strip unemployment benefits from workers in the state who declined to return to work. In other words, "endanger your life or starve," as one employment attorney put it.

But during her White House visit, Reynolds had the audacity to play up worker confidence as the reason the plants were able to continue production. "A big part of it was providing them the confidence to go back into the facility knowing they either tested positive and recovered or were on a shift with other employees who tested negative," she said.

Alternatively, maybe they wanted to feed their families and realized they had absolutely no choice but to return to work, despite the fact that last week the state announced more than 1,600 employees at meatpacking plants had recently tested positive for COVID-19. At the Tyson plant in Perry, Iowa, fully 58% of the workforce tested positive.

No worries for Reynolds, though, she's laying low as she waits to make certain she wasn't infected while visiting the Trump/Pence bubble.

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