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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 4.21.20: First COVID-19 Death in Woodbury County, SCPD Infection Update and Hospital Impact

Woodbury County saw the first death to COVID-19.

The victim is a man between the ages of 61 to 80 who wasn’t hospitalized.  He died at home.

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, local health officials stressed the importance of preventing the spread of disease.  They urge people to stay home as much as possible especially as they weather improves.

Drive-up testing for residents of all three Siouxland states will be available for people with approval by their doctor.

The Chief Executive Officer with the Siouxland Community Health Center says more people are being exposed to the illness.

There were 18 new cases in Woodbury County for a total of 93.

Statewide cases jumped by almost 500 people with four new deaths.  That does not include the Woodbury County case.

Governor Kim Reynolds says there isn’t enough testing done to see when business can reopen in the state. 

On Tuesday, she announced plans for a program called Test Iowa to provide more testing.  The state is partnering up with a Utah company for the health monitoring program that starts on Saturday.

Reynolds says the program can test 3,000 more people each day.

A viral social medica campaign will give people more information about the program.

Local health officials say this in addition to testing already done in Woodbury County.  Sioux City was one of the first in the state to provide drive-through testing.

For more information check out testiowa.com.

Gov. Pete Ricketts is urging residents to visit testnebraska.com, a website that will allow them to get a free, voluntary health assessment. People who have symptoms, have been exposed to the coronavirus or have traveled to hot spots will be eligible for free drive-thru tests. The partnership with a coalition of private companies will allow the state to test up 3,000 residents per day in about five weeks, up from its current average of 600 to 800 tests.

The union representing workers at the Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls says a second employee at the plant has died from COVID-19. The local chapter of the United Food & Commercial Workers reports that Craig Allen Franken died on Sunday. He was 61 years old. An obituary posted online says he started working at the plant in 1979 shortly after he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army. He worked there for over 40 years. Another employee died last week. Health officials also report 71 new cases of the coronavirus in South Dakota, bringing the statewide tally to 1,755.

Racing promoters plan to go ahead with an event at a track in Jefferson this weekend with some modifications for social distancing. Sprint car promoter and racing veteran Terry McCarl is bringing the Open Wheel Nationals to Park Jefferson Speedway on Saturday. But, the drivers won’t be racing for a packed house. KELO-TV reports that instead only 700 tickets have been sold for a speedway that seats more than 4,000. McCarl says that should give each person more than six feet of distance from each other. Gov. Krisit Noem is one of the few governors who hasn’t issued a statewide stay-at-home order.

The Sioux City Police Department released new information surrounding staff members who recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Nine were impacted, including Police Chief Rex Mueller.

Some of the employees have already returned to their duties.

They all worked together in two offices at police headquarters and did not interact   closely with the public.

Most ended up with mild symptoms.  Two did seek medical treatment.

A spokesperson says the department is taking extra precautions to help prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.

One of the state’s largest health systems has announced it will be cutting some of its staff’s hours and pay in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

UnityPoint Health announced Tuesday it will be furloughing or reducing hours for staff in departments that are closed or not operating at capacity.

It will also reduce executive pay by 15 percent.

The changes go into effect on Sunday.

The non-profit health system says it has experienced quote unprecedented challenges and volume declines as a result of the global pandemic.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has suspended all non-essential medical procedures through the end of the month.

A new report says the owners and regulators of a Nebraska dam that failed last year underestimated the potential for it to cause life-threatening damage. A man who lived downstream from Spencer Dam died when it failed during an icy flood in March 2019. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials released a report Tuesday. It says regulators were unaware the dam had failed under pressure from ice in 1935 and been damaged by ice in 1960 and 1966. But the report says there's little the dam's operators could have done on the day of the March 2019 flood to prevent it from collapsing.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.