DES MOINES, IOWA — Governor Kim Reynolds says she will make “no apologies” for sending a ‘strike team’ to test employees of a company owned by a campaign donor amidst reports that the company “leap-frogged” long term care facilities and other agencies that were waiting for testing help in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This week the news site “Bleeding Heartland” reported that the Iowa National Guard and Iowa Department of Public Health personnel conducted a testing of the employees of GMT Corporation in Waverly back in May. The visit came after someone at the company personally requested help from the Governor. Bruce Rastetter, a major donor to Iowa Republicans, owns a majority interest in the company.
Bleeding Heartland reports that GMT Corporation was able to secure the testing visit before other agencies, including the local public health department that sought help testing residents of long term care facilities. State Auditor Rob Sand has announced that his office will review the use of the strike team.
On Wednesday, Governor Reynolds defended her administration’s decision to dispatch the testing team to GMT Corporation. Reynolds says the company met the criteria to be helped, so they were.
“There’s criteria, you qualify. To the best of my knowledge no one was told ‘no'”, Reynolds said during a press conference, “If you called and wanted to facilitate a way to get your employees tested to ensure that they were working in a safe environment – that’s what companies were doing and we were doing everything that we could to help facilitate that and I will make no apologies for doing that. None.”
Governor Reynolds her administration’s focus early in the pandemic was working to keep the state’s agriculture and food industry running, claiming 10% of the US food supply comes from Iowa. GMT Corporation is a metal manufacturing facility. The company’s website says it is a leader in the “heavy equipment industries.”
On Wednesday the Governor re-confirmed that the state will seen an increase in COVID-19 vaccinations in the coming weeks. The Biden administration has promised to increase weekly allocations to states by 16% for at least the next three weeks. Last week Iowa ranked 46th in the nation for per capita vaccine distribution. President Joe Biden has said he will make vaccine distribution the top priority of his administration.
Governor Reynolds also reported Wednesday that the state’s coronavirus website will include a dashboard for tracking vaccine distribution in Iowa starting next week.