Iowa's former communications director says state tried to withhold COVID-19 info

A former spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Health claims the state made "a deliberate effort to thwart open communication" about COVID-19 in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed Sept. 3, reports The New York Times.

Longtime spokesperson Polly Carver-Kimm said she faced pushback from department superiors after helping reporters access information about the pandemic in line with the state's open records law.

The lawsuit claims superiors gradually shrunk Ms. Carver-Kimm's responsibilities and banned her from responding to infectious disease-related media inquiries or open records requests. 

"The only explanation I ever received was that I was not a team player and causing friction with the governor's staff," Ms. Carver-Kimm told reporters Sept. 3, according to the Times. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds was named as a defendant in the suit, alongside her Communications Director Pat Garrett and the state of Iowa.

In mid-July, Ms. Carver-Kimm said she was given the option to either resign or be terminated as part of a restructuring, according to the lawsuit. She had served as the department's communications director for 13 years, reports local Fox affiliate KPTM.

The Iowa Department of Public Health declined the Times' request for comment. The governor's office did not respond to the publication's queries.

More articles on public health:
US coronavirus death rates by state: Aug. 21
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Aug. 21
20 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Aug. 21

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