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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 4.8.20: IA Recoveries, Small Business Help, Food Bank Record and School Update

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says she is somewhat optimistic about the number of people recovering from COVID-19.

At a news conference this morning she reported no new deaths.  The Iowa Department of Public Heath updated that information to include an elderly patient who died in eastern Iowa.

There are 97 news cases and no new deaths.  A total of 1,145 have tested positive.

A total of 27 Iowans have died.

There are 122 currently hospitalized and 431 patients have recovered.

“Only 10% are hospitalized right now and that’s a fairly good number and I think the number that gives a lot of hope is 38% of all cases have recovered.”

The governor says the peak isn’t expected until the end of the month.

However, the deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health says limited testing is making it difficult to pinpoint when the peak will actually happen.

Siouxland District Health reports two of the state’s new cases come from Woodbury County.  That brings the total to 11 in the county. 

Local officials say they are satisfied with the currently local response to the disease and the amount of testing being done in the area.

The Woodbury County Supervisors voted to screen people going into the courthouse for fevers and that includes employees.

The public can come into the facility if they set up appointments first.

Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or above will be asked to leave.

The number of positive cases in South Dakota jumped by almost 25 percent.  It’s the biggest one-day total.  There are 393 confirmed cases and six deaths.

Three more people in Nebraska have died from COVID-19.

Thirteen have died in all with 478 testing positive for the disease.

Economic officials say they’re expanding Iowa’s short-term small business relief program from 4 to 24 million dollars.

The state announced about two weeks ago that it was taking applications for small business grants of 5- to 25-thousand dollars as a stopgap measure until federal help arrives.

Governor Kim Reynolds says the state received nearly 14-thousand applications requesting almost 150-million dollars in assistance. She’s using state economic emergency funds and her transfer authority to cover 24-million dollars’ worth of those requests. 

Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debbie Durham says every application was “triaged.”

“We determined eligibility and the businesses identifying the greatest revenue disruption were awarded in this first round of funding.”  

She says about 500 businesses were notified they’ll get grants, and there are more to come. But Durham says the state won’t allow for new applicants.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission held a special meeting yesterday and voted to delay the fees due from the 19 state-licensed casinos.

Officials say the fees are usually paid each week and range from $2,000 to $14,000 a week.

The casinos will be closed until at least the end of April.  The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Sioux City shut down on St. Patrick’s Day.

The Food Bank of Siouxland says it distributed a record amount of food last month to local pantries and homeless shelters.

Last month, the food bank distributed more than 380-thousand pounds of food to local pantries and homeless shelters.

It shattered its record from last October.

The food bank’s executive director Linda Scheid says even people who have never been food insecure before are struggling, because of COVID-19.

Officials at the state’s largest school district have announced plans for completing the school year without having students return to the classroom.

Des Moines Public Schools will start teaching courses on Monday. 

Printed material will also be handed out to students from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade.

Sioux City Community Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman says the district will stay on course with voluntary continuous learning. 

Elementary schools are providing learning packets for students and middle and high school student will get their lessons online.  Lessons will not be graded and teachers will be available for feedback.

Students and staff won’t need to make up days missed because of COVID-19.

The National Weather Service says flooding remains a concern in several states along the Missouri River, even though the weather has been kind so far this spring.

The agency says the flood risk area includes western Iowa and the eastern parts of Nebraka and South Dakota.  That’s because the soil remains wet.

However, a lack of rain and the warm temperatures this spring have allowed snow to melt gradually across the Plains without increasing the risk.

Officials have trimmed their forecast for how much water will flow down the Missouri River in 2020, but it is still expected to be a wet year.