Iowa political parties are working to accommodate coronavirus concerns at upcoming events. The Republican Party of Iowa will host its county conventions this Saturday. The Iowa Democratic Party’s county conventions are scheduled the following Saturday. However, concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus are adding a new level of complexity to the planning.
The county, district, and state conventions are critical political events, especially during an election year. Candidates, volunteers, and activists get together to elect delegates, vote on the party platform and organize for the upcoming election. The age of many of the attendees, the size of the gatherings taking place in each of the states 99 counties could be a recipe for trouble if one of them is infected with COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus.
President Trump addressed the nation from the oval office Wednesday night and announced a European travel ban. The President also singled out the elderly in his address, stating, “The highest risk is for [the] elderly population with underlying health conditions. The elderly population must be very, very careful. […..] In general, older Americans should also avoid nonessential travel in crowded areas.”
Currently Scheduled Political Conventions
- March 14: Iowa GOP County Conventions
- March 21: Iowa DEM County Convention
- April 25: Iowa GOP & Iowa DEM District Convention
- June 13: Iowa GOP & Iowa DEM State Convention
Republican party insiders have varied views on attending the county convention. Some are proceeding as usual, while other elderly individuals were initially planning to attend their local county convention this weekend, but the President’s comments have given them pause.
“I have gotten several calls today from elderly members saying they are not going to attend,” said one Iowa GOP county chair who asked their name not to be disclosed. Several legislators and activists told Iowa Field Report that they expect lower turnout at the county conventions Saturday due to the Coronavirus concerns.
After consulting with the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Governor’s office, we have decided to move forward and hold our county conventions this Saturday,” said Aaron Britt, spokesman for the Republican Party of Iowa. “Of course, the health and safety of Iowans is of the utmost importance. We strongly advise any Iowan who isn’t feeling well to stay home, and we will be in contact with county chairs to provide guidance for their events.
The World Health Organization declared that the Coronavirus outbreak has now reached pandemic levels. The World Health Organization has, in the past, defined a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a new disease.
Governor Kim Reynolds announced Sunday night that three Iowa residents tested presumptively positive for the novel Coronavirus. Since that announcement, there have been a total of 14 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Iowa. More are expected.
Governor Reynolds signed a disaster proclamation Monday authorizing state agencies to “utilize resources including personnel equipment and facilities to perform activities necessary to prevent, contain, and mitigate the effects of the covid-19 virus.” The Iowa Department of public health has established a standalone web page detailing the monitoring and testing of covid-19 in Iowa. Here.