Once again, the hashtag #CovidKim is trending on Twitter. And once again, “Kim” doesn’t seem refer to Kim Kardashian, Kim Jong-un, “kittens in mayonnaise” or “kids in mind.” Instead, once again, the hashtag seems to mainly reference Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R). And, no, Reynolds’ real first name is not actually “Covid.” It looks like the hashtag surged in use soon after Reynolds signed into law a bill that will prohibit Iowa school districts, cities and counties from instituting any face mask mandates.
The bill reached her desk after passing through the Iowa House by a 53-35 vote and the Iowa Senate by a 29-17 vote. These votes were surprise, surprise, split along party lines with Republicans voting yea and Democrats voting nay. After all, these days, why shouldn’t a public health and scientific issue become a completely partisan one instead? Reynolds then signed the bill into law in the wee hours of the morning, a law that went into effect immediately.
As you can see, in the video accompanying the following tweet, people around Reynolds applauded the signing, which occurred a little after midnight:
Let that sink in for while like mayonnaise on a root beer float. People were applauding a state government overriding the ability of local officials to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
With the passage of this law, if a school or municipality in Iowa wants to require face masks because vaccination rates happen to be low or the virus happens to be aggressively circulating or both, fugget about it. The same would apply should a new more contagious or more virulent severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) variant emerge. This new law basically further ties the hands of local public health officials when trying to respond to an outbreak but not in a bondage type of way.
MORE FOR YOU
This new law also goes against the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Based on CDC guidelines, those unvaccinated should still wear face masks and practice social distancing when around others who aren’t already in their social bubble. And currently, the vast majority of school-aged children are unvaccinated. In fact, you can’t even get the Covid-19 vaccine right now if you are less 12 years of age. That’s a big reason why the CDC has recommended that schools should maintain face mask wearing and social distancing at least through the end of the 2020-2021 school year.
So why oh why is the Iowa state government banning face mask mandates when only about 40% of the Iowa population has been fully vaccinated so far. Well, here’s what Reynolds indicated in a tweet:
Putting parents back in control? How about parents who now have to worry about their kids being infected by other kids while at school? As you can see, some of the responses to Reynolds’ tweet included the #CovidKim hashtag. In fact, like sweatpants in 2020, the hashtag today experienced a resurgence:
Some have pointed out that the new law may actually be anti-anti-big government because it allows the state government to control what individual schools and municipalities may need to do:
For example, what happens if an outbreak or surge occurs in a particular location requiring rapid containment of the virus? How can local officials then respond quickly when there’s a broader ban from the state? For example, should a school want its teachers, staff, and students to don face masks, it may not have the ability to enforce such a requirement, as the following tweet indicated:
This could leave schools and then anyone connected with the schools in any way quite vulnerable to the virus. Of course, should there be an attack of too tight pants or too short shorts, the schools may be ready:
Choosing what clothes to wear may be your own fashion decision, assuming that what you wear won’t pose an infectious disease risk to others. So, you may want to steer clear of a Shigella skirt, polio pants, or Legionella leggings. By contrast, wearing face masks during a Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is not simply your “own health care decision.” That would be like saying that using a toilet rather than a lawn, the sidewalk, or a picnic table is your “own health care decision.” Not wearing a face mask when you may be carrying the Covid-19 coronavirus could be posing an infectious disease risk for others.
While the Covid-19 vaccine can help protect against more severe Covid-19, it unlike avocado toast is not perfect. You can still get infected and carry the virus, albeit your chances are probably much lower. Well over half the Iowa population is unvaccinated.
And if you focus on schools, that percentage is higher, much higher. That’s because many teens haven’t yet had an opportunity to get vaccinated, and kids under 12 years of age aren’t yet eligible to get the Covid-19 vaccine, assuming that they aren’t trying to use fake ID and are unusually tall for their age. As a result, banning face mask mandates could leave teachers, school staff, and students vulnerable to infection and to carry the virus home with them. While #CovidKim may not mean “Covid kids in mind,” kids could be among those most affected by this new Iowa law.