Advice from Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, on how to fight coronavirus in Iowa
All too often, like the boy who cried “wolf,” the word “crisis” is casually tossed about to grab attention or stir emotions. Unfortunately, “crisis” understates the imminent threat that the coronavirus outbreak poses to our personal and collective health and economic future.
To read in full about my ideas for what actions can and should be taken in light of the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa, please see my column that appeared in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Scroll down for my ideas about what we can do as policy makers and actions that you can take today to help your community.
Additionally, I encourage all Iowans who are able and healthy to schedule an appointment to donate blood to help make up for the losses incurred by the cancellation of blood drives across the state. Check out the Mississippi Valley Blood Center or the Life Serve Blood Center to find more information about how you can safely donate today!
As a doctor and former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, I bring a unique perspective to battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is what we can do as policy makers to flatten the curve and stop the spread:
- We need free and vastly more available coronavirus testing. I suggested more funding for the Iowa Department of Public Health. A $525,000 appropriation was made to the State Hygienic Laboratory for testing kits.
- We should develop a volunteer workforce through temporary licensure of physicians, nurses and physician’s assistants who have retired or whose licenses lapsed.
- Restrictions on telemedicine should be lifted temporarily and all insurers should reimburse such care.
- State and federal lawmakers should loosen unemployment compensation rules for those who are temporarily out of work or see their work hours reduced, temporarily increase SNAP benefits and low-interest small business loans and temporarily defer student loan repayments.
Our traditional, heroic volunteerism in the face of natural disaster can be tremendously beneficial, now more than ever. Here are just a few ways you can volunteer:
- Young adults and teenagers can electronically organize groups to individually babysit for parents who cannot work from home
- Visit elderly, homebound neighbors, either virtually or from outside, maintaining social distancing
- Volunteer to prepare or pick up meals and deliver them to the homebound
- Volunteer to deliver meals for a favorite restaurant one or two hours a day for free