Preventing another shutdown


With businesses continuing to reopen and the weather warm and sunny, the apex of the COVID-19 pandemic here in the Corridor can begin to seem like a distant memory.

The reality is that the pandemic isn’t over. In fact, it is spiking in some areas like Johnson County. The Gazette reported last week that Johnson County experienced double-digit increases each day for seven days, matching a seven-day stretch back from April 3-9.

This is troubling for overall public health, but also for its potential to impact the economy again just as it is starting to improve.

While everything is seemingly political these days, our encouragement that people and business leaders wear face masks in public settings – when appropriate and possible – is not. It is a simple plea to act with concern for your health and others so we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep the economy on the road to recovery.

Even with an increase in cases in the Corridor, we don’t think that closing businesses again is a reasonable or realistic option. The public has been through a lot with closures, and its tolerance is wearing thin.

For better or worse, this will become another “public health versus the economy” debate. That is a difficult position for businesses and their owners to be placed in again. Our message is simple: Wear a mask when you can and practice social distancing, diligent hand washing and cleaning. We can get through this if we all pitch in and do our part.

Liability law takes right approach

Most employers are doing their part by implementing enhanced procedures and processes to prevent their employees from contracting COVID-19 at work. Some have spent thousands of dollars, others millions. Regardless of these efforts, there is no guarantee that it won’t happen.

We were pleased that the COVID-19 Response and Back-to-Business Limited Liability Act was signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds. It provides much needed liability limitations on potential COVID-19 lawsuits for a wide range of businesses and organizations including restaurants, retail establishments, medical providers, senior care facilities and meat processing plants, provided they “substantially” follow public health guidance.

JD Davis, vice president of public policy for the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) said the organization made passage of limited liability protection for businesses and manufacturers one of its top two legislative priorities  in the latest shortened session of the Iowa General Assembly.

“We were concerned it could quickly become a blame game of who, what and when,” Mr. Davis said. In addition to keeping America’s food supply chain going, he pointed out that many manufacturers stepped up to meet the crisis head-on by converting production lines to produce personal protective equipment.

While restricting liability should never be taken lightly, this law was a good response to extraordinary circumstances. It will help businesses continue to battle this pandemic and get our economy back on track. CBJ