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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 5.8.20: C-19 Surge in Dakota County, Testing Update and Unanswered Questions

There is a surge of new cases of COVID-19 in Dakota County.  The health department reported 361 new cases for a total of more than 1,400.  This number comes after the testing of all employees at the Tyson plant in Dakota City.  There have been seven deaths total for a dozen in the Sioux City metro area. 

From now on, the Dakota County Health Department plans to just release updates on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

Iowa reported another dozen deaths from COVID-19 on Friday for a total of 243. 

There were 400 new cases statewide for a total of almost 11,500.  More than 13% of all positive case in the state come from Woodbury County where there are 116 new cases and a total of more than 1,500 people infected.  There are 135 more cases in Woodbury County than Dakota County.

Local health officials say testing in Woodbury County outpaces the state of Iowa by 2 to 1.

At a news conference this afternoon Siouxland District Health says one out of every 26 residents has been tested.  Woodbury County is 4th in the state in testing with more than 4,900 people screened.

Local officials gave out additional recommendations when it comes to people experiencing symptoms of the disease.  If someone shows even mild symptoms like headaches, body aches or sore throats, they should stay home.

The Deputy Director of Siouxland District Health says some patients have waited too long to seek medical treatment.

When pressed by local reporters for more transparency in reporting locations of potential outbreaks officials once again cited privacy laws as the reason more information isn’t being released.

They did say there are no current issues for long-term care facilities in Woodbury County, unlike other areas of the state.

The mayor of Denison, Iowa says a Test Iowa site is expected to open on Saturday at the Denison Middle School. 

Crawford County currently has 149 COVID-19 cases and is home to a pork plant owned by Smithfield Foods.

The mayor says because of the diversity of her community she is worried about computer access or if people can respond to the languages offered through the Test Iowa questionnaire.  It appears to be in English and Spanish.

A Test Iowa site in Sioux City at Western Iowa Tech Community College will reopen Monday.

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City announced the suspension of public Masses will remain until further notice.  Services have been moved online.

The Diocese originally suspended the services and church event on March 16 for 8-weeks.  That suspension would have ended on Monday.

South Dakota health officials report a spike in confirmed cases of coronavirus on Friday with 239 new infections after a mass testing event in Sioux Falls.

The Department of Health provided testing to Smithfield employees and their close contacts this week.

The Smithfield pork processing plant is moving to reopen after shuttering due to an outbreak.

Officials report no new deaths from COVID-19, but 31 people have died statewide.

Vice President Mike Pence trip to Iowa was delayed for about an hour after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

Pence was expected to arrive around noon. 

He called Iowa’s response to the coronavirus “a success story” but he may find a less rosy reality in Des Moines.

A recent rise in confirmed infections in the city has alarmed the mayor and medical officials.

Even the federal task force Pence leads has expressed concern.

Pence is scheduled to encourage faith leaders to responsibly resume in-person church services, even as many say they’ll refrain for now to stop the virus's spread.

Pence will also meet with grocery and agriculture leaders to discuss food supply.

Nebraska’s education commissioner says schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic should be able to reopen on schedule this fall.

Nebraska had almost 7,200 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Friday morning.

Ninety people in Nebraska have died.

Governor Pete Ricketts says nearly one out of six coronavirus cases in Nebraska have been linked to the state’s meatpacking plants.

As coronavirus hotspots erupted at major U.S. meatpacking plants, experts criticized extremely tight working conditions that made the factories natural high risk contagion locations.

Meanwhile, an outbreak at a Tyson Foods pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa infected more than 1,000 workers.  That’s more than previously announced.  That number is about 40% of the 2,800 workers at the facility.

But some Midwestern politicians have pointed the finger at the workers’ living conditions, suggesting crowded homes bear some blame.

Outraged employees and advocates call the comments elitist and critical of immigrants in the meatpacking workforce. The remarks came amid public gratitude for other essential workers like police officers, health care professionals and grocery store workers.

An Iowa judge has ruled that a state law blocking Planned Parenthood from receiving federal money for sex education programs is unconstitutional.

Fifth Judicial District Judge Paul Scott wrote the law violates Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s right to equal protection and “has no valid, ‘realistic conceivable’ purpose that serves a legitimate government interest .”