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Gov. Reynolds talks derecho damage, vaccines in a visit to eastern Iowa

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NEWHALL, Iowa (KWWL)- In a visit to Eastern Iowa Friday, Governor Reynolds addressed COVID-19 and the Derecho's aftermath. She was joined in Cedar Rapids by Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.

The two took part in an event celebrating the launch of a new initiative from Kirkwood Community College to re-plant trees throughout Iowa.

After the Derecho destroyed so many trees across the state, organizers said the re-tree initiative hopes to repair what was lost and educate the community on the importance of re-planting trees for the environment and future generations to enjoy.

The group planted a Bur Oak tree, the state tree on Kirkwood's campus.

"It's the start, it's the regrowth, it's a renewal period and we can see that across the state," Secretary Naig said.

Governor Reynolds said of the 57 Iowa counties that were hit by the derecho, Linn County was among the hardest hit.

She also stopped by a school in Benton County, Central Lutheran School, which also sustained heavy damage in the August storm.

"Our cafeteria and the small gym had the rood taken off of it. Part of it ended up in our second-grade classroom, and the rest of it was spread throughout the neighbor's yard and in his house," Principal Frank Parris said. "Along the way, it caused damage poking holes in the rood, and water came in."

You can still see the damage from the derecho on the roof. The school is still having meals delivered from partners who are helping feed students until they can get the cafeteria back up and running.

"They are back in the classroom," Governor Reynolds said. "They are making good progress and all the kids are really happy to be back in school."

Since the Derecho hit in August, students have been learning in-person, but they have been spread out in other facilities and locations throughout the community.

But as of Monday, every student will be back, in-person in the same building. Parris said his school was the last in Benton county to begin administering the second dose.

Reynolds also came to see how the school was doing on vaccinated teachers and staff members.

"We have some staff members who are not crazy about vaccinations, but they know the good that it does not only for students, parents but also communities," he said.

Reynolds said visits to clinics like the one in Newhall allow her to get a better sense of how the distribution is going and local public health officials' needs on the ground.

"We want to know where we need to send those additional vaccines to, so it is helpful to see they have a system and a process in place," Reynolds said. "They are asking for more vaccines and they definitely were especially as we get more of the Johnson and Johnson."

Reynolds said the single dose vaccine is crucial for smaller, harder to reach areas of the state.

Governor Reynolds herself received the Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccine during a recent press conference.

Reynolds said she took it because she felt like there was some skepticism and uncertainty about it. Reynolds said if you have a chance to get a shot, take what is offered.

"Whether it is Pfizer, Moderna, or the Johnson and Johnson, the most important thing is to get it," Reynolds said. "That gets Iowans vaccinated so we can really return back to normal."

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Daniel Perreault

Reporter

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