PM News 3.31.2020: COVID-19 Update, Help for the Homeless/Jobless and More
The Iowa Department of Public Health reporting 73 additional cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the state total of confirmed cases to 497.
Fifty-seven counties have confirmed cases including the first case in Clay County. There were two more confirmed in Sioux County for a total of 15 in Siouxland.
Testing is still quite limited in the state, so the actual number of cases is likely much bigger and more widespread.
One more Iowan has died from the novel coronavirus, the seventh death in the state.
The state is reporting that 61 Iowans are currently hospitalized, 33 were discharged and recovering, and more than 250 were never hospitalized.
Nearly 7-thousand negative tests have been reported.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Governor Kim Reynolds emphasized the importance of staying indoors for the safety of older Iowans.
An Iowa judge has set a hearing for Wednesday to consider whether to block an order by Gov. Kim Reynolds halting abortions in the state.
Abortion providers say Reynolds violated the state constitution by including abortion in an order enacted Friday halting non-emergency medical procedures to preserve medical equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.
The City of Sioux City is looking for permanent housing for more than two dozen homeless people. A local homeless shelter closed early for the season last week because of concerns over COVID-19.
An email from Sioux City neighborhood Services says staff placed approximately 30 homeless people in hotels around Sioux City. They’ll stay there until April 15th. But, they are looking to find permanent housing.
Congress passed a sweeping pandemic relief package last week that aims to put some cash into the hands of most people.
And Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says there are specific provisions to help rural communities: pots of money for farmers and rural hospitals, for example. And some provisions may go a little farther in rural areas than in cities.
“If there’s anybody unemployed in rural America, they’re going to get the same benefits of $600 more on unemployment compensation for the next four months than what they’d normally get with their unemployment.”
Grassley says the $2 trillion package is meant to address the next three months. He says Congress should evaluate the economic and public health conditions over the short term before beginning discussions on any additional funding.
With flood concerns already high in the Midwest, the National Weather Service says several states in the region including Iowa, Nebraska and eastern South Dakota face an above-average flood risk this spring.
That’s due largely to soil saturation to the north.
Record flooding in 2019 damaged several levees, many of which have yet to be repaired.
The Army Corps of Engineers says “challenging weather conditions and higher flows” continue, delaying the ability to fully assess damage.
Officials say the summer games of the South Dakota Special Olympics have been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The games were to be held in Vermillion.
Nearly 1,000 people attend the event every year. The summer games returned to Vermillion in 2019 for the first time in 50 years.