News 4.13.20: A Thank You to Caretakers, Packing Plant Concerns and Easter Snow Storm
On Monday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported two deaths and 123 new cases of COVID-19; that includes two more in Woodbury County for a total of 20.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says a large amount of the deaths are from people living in long-term care facilities. She also took a moment to give a message to employees at facilities across the state.
“You are more than caregivers. You are heroes on the front lines. Thank you for showing up and caring for others like you would for your own family.”
Meanwhile, experts working to develop models to help Iowa public health officials predict and manage the coronavirus pandemic are racing against time.
A contract shows the Iowa Department of Public Health and the University of Iowa College of Public Health didn’t reach a formal agreement to work together to create Iowa-specific pandemic models until April 7.
The agreement calls for the college to produce predictive models within two weeks of receiving the department’s coronavirus data, or on another mutually agreed upon schedule.
The goal of the models is to help Iowa public health officials and Gov. Kim Reynolds predict the severity of the outbreak and make decisions about specific mitigation strategies.
Nebraska has seen almost 800 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Governor Kristi Noem says South Dakota will be launching the nation’s first state-wide clinical trial using hydroxychloroquine to fight COVID-19.
The Chief Medical Officer with Sanford says the drug prevents the virus from entering the human cell, putting a damper on spread.
There are 138 more cases in South Dakota for a total of 868.
Fifty-seven of the new cases are linked to an outbreak at Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls. The facility is closed until further notice.
B.J. Motley is the president of the local union of the United Food and Commercial Workers for the Sioux Falls facility.
“Hope all of the managers have stuff in play to help protect all of the workers in the plants.”
Motley, says the food supply still needs to keep going but extra precautions need to be taken.
“I would like to see the plant test everybody. Every member, every worker in the worker in the plant and that will limit the exposure.”
Motley says there is also concern, minorities are put at higher risk.
“I would say our plant, 95% are immigrants and people from different nationalities. And, that does play a role.”
So, far almost 300 people who work at the plant have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Smithfield planned to continue to pay its 3,700 employees during the closure.
A snowy Easter Sunday broke a record in Sioux City. The airport reported 3.7 inches for April 12th.
One spot in the region saw a foot of snow. That was Holt County, northwest of O’Neill.
Snow totals ranged from Sioux Center with 8 inches, Estherville with 7 inches, Storm Lake with 2 inches. Some spots in the southern part of Siouxland only saw a trace of snow or even less!