James Wilmington Sr., bent down to meet his grandson, Mason Kerr, eye-to-eye.
"I want this world to be a better place for you,'' he said, rubbing the youngster's head. "This is not about us versus them; this is we — you, me, them — all finding a way to make this work.
"Unfortunately,'' Wilmington said, pointing his right hand to the sky. "The Good Lord sees everything. He sees the goodness in so many hearts, but he also sees some folks are refusing to get along at a time when we need to put pettiness aside. And there is some pettiness going on.''
On an overcast, but warmish Monday, Wilmington, a Davenport man, said he loved how Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has guided the state through the battle with the coronavirus. He also understands the challenge — and the frustration — of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
"I see the situation in Illinois being the way it is because it has Chicago to deal with,'' Wilmington said. "Things are all but shut down in one state and the other — because it hasn't gone 'shelter' (shelter in place)— seems like it's open for business. And he (Pritzker) knows Iowa is right there for folks to see and it frustrates him.''
This past weekend, Pritzker took aim at Iowa and Reynolds' governing of the pandemic. He chided "the state to the west'' because it has no stay-at-home mandate like Illinois, and that neighboring Missouri only began sheltering on Sunday.
"Think of the United States like a big jet plane and Illinois is sitting one row in front of the smoking section, Iowa,'' Pritzker said during his Sunday press briefing.
"I get it,'' said Rock Island's James Reed, who owns a Rock Island-based pallet company. "There is no sheltering policy in Iowa, and it's something we see firsthand because we bump up against Iowa. We see people out, doing whatever they want and need to get done, while we are over here, shut down, with nowhere to go and nothing to do. It's a real issue, and tensions are high.''
On Monday, Reynolds signed a proclamation continuing the State Public Health Emergency Declaration and ordering additional closures and relaxing additional regulations to support the state’s efforts to combat COVID-19. But she did not add a shelter-at-home order.
"It's not going to change much,'' Davenport's Dave Williams said of added closures in Iowa. Williams and friend Gloria Stock were breaking for coffee after a morning walk through Davenport's Vander Veer Park.
"There is no shelter rule, and that means something for Iowa,'' Williams said, gaining a nod of approval from Stock. "Look at the number of coronavirus cases in Scott County, and we have had one death. Now look at the number of cases statewide.
"I'm not making light of the situation, but the numbers in Iowa don't support the steps they have had to take in Illinois just to help Chicago,'' he added. This isn't about one state against another, this is about doing what's best for the people you are supposed to be looking out for. It's time to take care of your own business, and Reynolds is doing what she feels is best for Iowa.''
Monday marked the first day since March 13 that Ashley Myers, her infant daughter and her 2-year-old son, Ryker, had been out of their Bettendorf home. Myers said she understood the measures taken on both sides in an attempt to keep residents safe.
"The rules are in place for a reason,'' she said. "We are dealing with the unknown. I can only speak to what affects us. I respect the hard decisions that have been made and will continue to do what we can to work through this. To that, it sure is great to be able to get outside. As soon as Ryker finishes his breakfast, we are going to take a walk.''
Wilmington gets that emotions are running high these days. Illinois closed golf courses and Iowa allowed players from Illinois to play its public courses — provided they observed social distancing measures — this past weekend. That, though, changed Monday, with only Iowa residents allowed to play on public, Iowa-based golf courses.
"No one complains when Illinois drivers come over and buy gas in Iowa,'' Wilmington said while sharing the early afternoon with Kerr at Rock Island's Sunset Park. "We can't stop people at the bridges. Come on, let's stop this thing, but do it by working together, practicing safe policies and getting past this. It's time to get with The Lord.''
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Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309 757 8388 or email@example.com
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