Iowans Helping Iowans: How Leaders Across the State Respond to COVID-19
May 8, 2020 | Hometown health
“Think global, act local” is a phrase applied to many circumstances, but none so important as how to approach a pandemic. We emphasize so often the information amplified nationwide and worldwide, we do not recognize the efforts being made within our state and within our communities. These leaders, amongst many others, help with the best they have to offer.
CREATED A FUND TO FEED IOWANS AND SUPPORT LOCALLY OWNED RESTAURANTS
Rob Sand, Iowa State Auditor Alumnus of Leadership Iowa, Class of 2013-14 Des Moines
While titles may indicate a call to service, it is when Rob Sand thought of himself as just a person, he found inspiration. Conceptualized on a bike ride, developed with a confidant and started with a month of his own salary, he created a coronavirus aid fund as a personal initiative.
“Let us help you help others,” said Sand. “I am a strong believer in the idea that ordinary people can do ordinary things to extraordinary effect.”
The fund gifts or reimburses meals purchased from locally owned restaurants. Those eligible has expanded beyond the unemployed to also include those self-employed, first responders and essential workers.
For support, instructions can be found on his Twitter account (@RobSandIA). To donate, Venmo @IowaHi or Paypal HelpIowansHelpIowans@gmail.com.
SUPPLEMENTED OPERATIONS TO SUPPLY PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
Molly Varangkounh, Hy-Capacity Alumna of Leadership Iowa, Class of 2017-18Humboldt
In response to emergency resources available, Molly Varangkounh offered the sewing feature on the machinery used in her multi-generational family owned business that is known for manufacturing heavy-duty tractor parts.
As the pandemic progressed and news surfaced of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies dwindling, Hy-Capacity understood they would need to take action. Process created, patterns determined and materials supplied, employees already cross-trained were eager to contribute.
“While I’m not skilled to be on the front lines, I can support those who are,” said Varangkounh. “We’re all needed right now.”
The gowns and face masks are directed to the recipient organizations by Iowa State University's Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS).
FACILITATED ETHANOL PLANT’S ABILITY TO PRODUCE HAND SANITIZER
Justin Schultz, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy and Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors Alumnus of Leadership Iowa, Class of 2018-19 Council Bluffs
Justin Schultz’s day-to-day changed quickly with an early COVID-19 case in the region. When community leadership was alerted to the depletion of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the local hospital, the who, what, when and where it was needed quickly became clear.
Schultz navigated permits and federal agencies, garnered support from Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley’s staff and monitored need while colleagues engineered the operation. Following guidelines of the World Health Organization, they produce a liquid anti-microbial substance dubbed “SIREtizer.”
The supply’s first priority is hospitals, clinics and first responders. Other recipients, at cost, are Pottawattamie County and area communities through local businesses to offer with orders.
“None of what we have been able to accomplish so far could have been done without the support of others on my team,” said Schultz. SIRE has also provided alcohol to other entities for other operations to multiply the output of the needed resource.
MEASURED BUSINESS NEEDS FOR STATE AND FEDERAL RESOURCES TO BE PROVIDED
Drew Conrad, Institute for Decision Making at the University of Northern Iowa Alumnus of Leadership Iowa, Class of 2005-06 Cedar Falls
It all begins with a call, and it was Drew Conrad who answered.
Within 36 hours, an instrument to understand the impact of COVID-19 on Iowa businesses was created and released. Updates were provided to the Iowa Economic Development Authority twice a day. Nearly 14,000 respondents required seven straight days to analyze. The data confirms that this crisis is impacting all of the industry sectors in Iowa.
Metrics collected are used by state and federal agencies and lawmakers to determine governmental aid and other support evidenced as needed to be made available.
“One of the things that has made me proud of our work in Iowa has been the number of other states who have reached out to us,” said Conrad. “They say they need what we’ve done, which we willingly provide to them.”