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U.S. Representative Cindy Axne tours Western Iowa; talks COVID-relief and flood recovery

Axne is touring Iowa to talk about COVID-relief in the form of the American Rescue Plan. It's an almost 2-trillion dollar package recently signed by the President.
Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 19:37:24-04

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — Iowa will get almost $1.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan. Community leaders sat down with Axne and were honest about all of the challenges rooted in the pandemic.

Superintendent Vickie Murillo with the Council Bluffs Community School District said childcare should get prioritized.

"It is a vision for Council Bluffs Schools to have universal Pre-K," Murillo said.

Steve Baumert, the President & CEO of Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital, worries about the future of the healthcare industry and encourages Axne to consider the hospital community.

"Kaufman Hall did a study that said optimistically in 2021, hospitals will see about a $51 billion decline; if you look at the worst-case scenario, about $120 billion less in volume and revenue coming through," Baumert said.

Denise McNitt from CHI Health Mercy Hospital said there is also a lack of resources when it comes to behavioral health.

"There's a huge scarcity of child adolescent psychiatrists in Iowa, in the country, really but Iowa is no different," McNitt said.

Axne was reassuring, saying Washington is prioritizing Pottawattamie County. It is set to get more than $18 million from the plan.

McNitt stressed the importance of prioritizing mental health.

"We're getting calls from Kansas, it's not uncommon when I have a kid from Davenport sitting in my in-patient unit or Le Mars or wherever, it's all over the state of Iowa and outside of Iowa because there are no resources," McNitt said.

Axne said the pandemic has exacerbated the economy's weaknesses.

"These things that have risen up out of COVID will really be seen as issues we really need to address," she said.

The representative also visited Hamburg to catch up on flood recovery with business owners.

SEE ALSO: Hamburg gets hard-fought approval to raise flood levee

Lawrence Buckalew, the owner of Hamburg Electric, calls recovery from the floods "slow" since money gets tied up. Axne promised to help Buckalew connect with Housing and Urban Development to move forward with repairing low-rent housing.

"It could probably take four or five more years, at least," Buckalew said.

During the pandemic, human connection has been lagging, but Congresswoman Axne is tackling the issues the best way she can — face-to-face.

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