As COVID-19 surges in Iowa, Congress still can’t pass relief


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Midwest is being hit especially hard as COVID-19 cases surge across the country, and Congress still doesn’t have another relief package on the table.

With infections and hospitalizations on the rise in Iowa, doctors are sounding the alarm.

“We’re heading in the wrong direction,” Dr. Jorge Salinas, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa, said. “There’s no end in sight.”

He said many hospitals in his state are already running out of beds and staff and called for more resources. And the coming flu season, he said, will only make things worse.

“It is possible that in the near future, hospitals will be overwhelmed,” Salinas said. “Something has to change.”

But in Washington, there hasn’t been any change. The Democrat-led House and Republican-controlled Senate haven’t reached a deal to fund the testing and treatment needed to slow the spread and take the pressure off hospitals. Both sides continue to blame one another for the inaction.

“It makes me very angry,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said. “We have brought up a package that would provide dollars to our health care systems … and the Democrats rejected it because they would rather see people hurting through this really difficult time and use it as a political tool.”

Ernst in the midst of a tight battle to keep her Senate seat. Theresa Greenfield, the Democrat challenging her, says Ernst could have done more to help.

“Clearly Washington has failed us with infection rates continuing at a high rate, certainly in Iowa. We need leadership. We need clear guidance,” Greenfield said. “Look at those problems as problems that are ours to solve, not as Democrat or Republicans.”

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she and the White House are still at odds over a national testing strategy but promised a relief deal is within reach.

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