The time is now for local leaders to take matters into their own hands. It has become agonizingly obvious that our national and state leaders are not going to honestly address the disruptive and deadly challenges our nation and state are facing from the growing spread of COVID-19.

This virus is real, and that is a fact that must be emphasized. Because of weak messaging (and that’s putting it kindly) our president and governor have unwittingly aided in the spread of the virus. President Donald Trump has made one false statement (again, putting it kindly) after another regarding the virus and its horrifying potential. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ messaging, while not as egregious as Trump’s, has been of little value (again, putting it kindly). She continues to hide behind her claim that “Iowans will do the right thing,” a ridiculous effort at misdirection, when she should be providing clear leadership about what must be done.

Ignorance, overconfidence and dismissiveness is our enemy. Glossing over what has already happened, ignoring the threats that still exist and downplaying the horror of a disease that has killed 140,000 Americans and almost 800 Iowans is reprehensible. 

With that said, our communities need stronger leadership and stronger messaging, and there is no one left to provide it other than local leaders.

While efforts to develop a vaccine may be beyond our communities, honest, rational messaging is not. We need our leaders to lead. It’s time for them to emphasize that this health crisis is not a joke. It’s time for them to set an example. It’s time for them to wear a mask in public, and it’s time for them to strongly encourage everyone else to do the same.