Janice Weiner (IA): ‘My Community Has Been Working Hard for Weeks to Prepare’
Janice Weiner (61), a Democrat from Iowa City, IA, is president-elect of her synagogue, Agudas Achim, and on its safety committee, an area where she gained expertise while in the Foreign Service. She is very active in the Democratic Party, serving as first vice-chair of the Johnson County Democrats (the “bluest county in Iowa”) and was recently elected to the city council in Iowa City. She also serves on the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council.
What do you think about the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic?
I think the federal response is way too little, too late. The lack of testing has left us with only the bluntest of tools. It is deadly. Government exists for a reason–it has tools at its disposal that the rest of us don’t. They are only now starting to mobilize some of them. But it also requires trust, and for many of us, there is none.
What do you think about the response in your state/community?
My community has been working hard for weeks to prepare–coordinating with the local university and its teaching hospital; figuring out daycare and how to help those who will be hurting the most, while doing what we need to in order to try to flatten the curve. The state was slow off the mark but has improved. The public health department has been doing a good job. Our people in general have responded well and responsibly, shutting down events, and ramping up virtual options.
Has the threat from the virus been overblown?
No, the response has not been overblown. All I have to do is look at Italy and France and watch the number of cases expand exponentially (as testing way too slowly rolls out) to know it is deadly serious.
Has the threat from the virus not been taken seriously enough?
At the federal level it was not for weeks. We should have had testing; we should have mobilized the Army Corps of Engineers. We are always a week–or multiple weeks–behind the curve.
What measures have you taken in your own life to protect yourself and others from the virus?
Sanitizing; avoiding my best friends who are immuno-compromised. We don’t go out except for groceries. Impressing upon my 20-year old the seriousness of this.
During the most recent debate, who do you think was strongest in responding to questions about the pandemic—Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders? Who do you think won the debate?
I watched part of it. Either is better than Trump but I’m looking for the expertise that a Biden administration will have and ability to get things done and have real coattails. Biden won. First time ever.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
We could be in a much better situation like South Korea or Germany, but we’re not because of the ineptitude at the top. The pandemic office was disbanded. The CDC was underfunded. Many, many lives will be lost as a result. We need competence in governance.