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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 5.19.10: IA Antibody Testing, Tyson/OSHA Reaction, Sioux City Pools and Energy Assistance

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SPM NEWS 5.19.20 - 4:04PM

Siouxland District Health reported two more deaths in Woodbury County on Tuesday due to COVID-19 complications.  There were 50 new positive cases.  The current number of positive cases Tuesday afternoon was more than 2,300.

Dakota County health officials reported no cases and two more deaths for a total of 16 and more than 1,500 positive cases.  There are now 36 deaths in Woodbury County and Dakota Counties.

Iowa now has on online resource where Iowa’s COVID-19 cases can be seen in real time.  At her daily coronavirus news conference, Governor Kim Reynolds announced that by going to coronavirus.iowa.gov where you can see an up to minute accounting of case counts and much more.  

“The latest update allows you to see case counts for the current day and look back at the case counts for any day since we began testing in early March. You can see trends for the state as a whole, and for each individual county, you can review data on demographics, recovered cases and reported deaths, and see results from serology testing.”

State officials said at a news conference Tuesday they have started releasing information on the number of Iowans who have undergone serology testing.

The testing uses a blood sample to look for antibodies linked to COVID-19. If someone tests positive, it could indicate they’ve had the novel coronavirus.

More than 12,000 Iowans have been tested so far with nearly 1,700 testing positive for the antibodies.

State Medical Director Caitlin Pedati said it’s still unclear how the antibodies work in terms of building immunity towards COVID-19. But the state is using the data to track the virus.

It's going to be really important for us to better understand the kind of immunity that people are developing, and also to help us understand where in our communities this virus might have been, and where it might be moving.

Pedati said people who are suspected to have had the virus along with healthcare workers and critical infrastructure workers are being tested.

Two more people have died from the coronavirus in Nebraska and the state reported 277 new cases as of Monday. The newest numbers bring the total number of deaths statewide to 125 and the total number of positive cases to 10,625. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services says more than 70,100 people have been tested since the pandemic began. The number of new patients has been trending downward since the a peak of 677 new cases on May 7, but public health officials say it’s important to continue practicing safety measures such as social distancing.

South Dakota health officials report two new deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday. That brings the state's death toll to 46. Statewide, the number of confirmed coronavirus infections grew to 4,085, up 58 from the previous day. Minnehaha County continues to lead the state in infections, with 3,165 cases and 40 deaths. Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken is preparing to lift all COVID-19 business restrictions in South Dakota's largest city. The Argus Leader reports the mayor is proposing to repeal the “no mingling” ordinance that caps the size of groups that can be in bars and restaurants. TenHaken said in an email to City Council members on Monday that Minnehaha and Lincoln counties are “experiencing a regular downward trend” in COVID-19 data.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is considering whether to allow additional activities to resume as her current proclamation prohibiting large gatherings and operation of some businesses expires next Wednesday.

Reynolds recently allowed restaurants, fitness centers, malls and hair salons to reopen with limits but she continued the closure for many other businesses. They include bars, casinos, movie theaters and amusement parks.

Reynolds said Tuesday she'll make some announcements on Wednesday and more next week.

Governor Reynolds said at a press conference on Tuesday she does not think the state mishandled a complaint about safety conditions at a meat packing facility that later experienced a COVID-19 outbreak.  

According to documents obtained by the Associated Press, Iowa OSHA took more than two weeks to seek and receive a response from Tyson Foods for an April complaint about its Perry plant.

It then determined the company’s efforts to keep workers safe were satisfactory without an inspection.

A week after the complaint was closed, more than 700 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

The four Democrats running to be the party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate say meat companies should be held accountable for their actions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a primary debate hosted by Iowa PBS Monday night the candidates were asked how they would balance workers’ health with the needs of farmers and consumers.

Indianola attorney Kimberly Graham said plants with outbreaks should be forced to close to arrange for protective equipment and distance between workers.

Des Moines real estate executive Theresa Greenfield said lawmakers should investigate allegations of price fixing by beef companies. Des Moines businessman Eddie Mauro and former Navy Vice Admiral Mike Franken of Sioux City are also running for the nomination.

The winner of the June 2nd primary runs against Republican Joni Ernst in the general election

You can hear from all the candidates tomorrow at noon on The Exchange with Mary Hartnett.  The Republican candidates vying for the 4th congressional seat, including incumbent Representative Steve King are expected to appear in a live forum next week.

The City of Sioux City plans to make an announcement this week about pools this summer.

Usually some of the pools are open in time for the Memorial Day weekend.  However, the Governor ordered all pools stay closed until at least May 27th.  That’s next Wednesday.

The city plans to follow guidelines from the CDC.

The CDC says there’s no evidence the coronavirus can spread in swimming pools, hot tubs, spas or water play areas.  However, social distancing could be an issue.

Staff is currently looking into offering limited services at the pool such as swimming lessons and other small group activities.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic people who need help with their power bills will get an extension on applying for help.

The Community Action Agency of Siouxland says the deadline for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP is now June 30th

The  average award for households is around $400.  Contact the Community Agency of Siouxland for more information.