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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 5.26.20: More of IA Reopening, Local C19 Update and Recycletronics Cleanup

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At her daily news conference on Tuesday Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced the easing of more restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.

On Thursday bars can reopen at 50% capacity.  Next Monday, casinos, speedways, racetracks bowling alleys, amusement parks and outdoor music venues can open. Also, sports gatherings of more than 10 people will be allowed. 

However, there some restrictions in place and guidance for people at higher risk of the disease.

Governor Reynolds says the number of positive testing has trended down in the state.

“In late April, we saw our average positive testing rate of 30% while we were conducting substantial targeted surveillance testing for long-care facilities and manufacturing facilities  in communities where we knew there was an increase on virus activity.  Today, our rate dropped to 13.1% and our rate yesterday was 6.3%.”

The Governor also announced a soon-to-be released program to help people who are unable to pay their rent or mortgages due to COVID-19 since a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures ends tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported eight deaths and 104 new positive cases.  This brings the statewide total to more than 17,600 positive cases and 464 deaths.  Tuesday afternoon the state coronavirus website shows 477 deaths and more than 17,700 positive cases.  

Siouxland District Health reported four deaths over the long Memorial Day weekend.  Three are middle-aged men and one an older man between the ages of 61 and 80.  There were 158 new cases over the 4-day period that includes today (Tuesday).  There have been 30 deaths in Woodbury County.  Dakota County has reported one more death for a total of 21 deaths and 26 new cases.

MercyOne and UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s put out a joint statement saying the hospitals are caring for 95 COVID-19 patients.

South Dakota health officials report 67 new cases of COVID-19, but no new deaths in the state. The new cases bring the state’s total to more than 4,600 cases and 50 deaths from COVID-19. Minnehaha County has accounted for the bulk of cases statewide. It also saw an outbreak at a Smithfield pork processing plant that infected over 800 employees.

There have been at least 150 deaths in the state of Nebraska and more than 12,000 confirmed cases.

The meat and poultry industry has historically relied on immigrant labor to do some of the most dangerous jobs in America. Now that reliance and uncertainty about the pandemic is fueling concerns about possible labor shortages to meet demands for beef, pork and chicken. Companies struggling to hire are spending millions on fresh incentives. Whether there’ll be long-lasting difficulties hinge on if employees feel safe, unemployment, industry reforms and President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.  

Federal officials say BNSF railroad has agreed to clean up 2 million pounds of broken glass from televisions and computer monitors that contains lead at a property it bought in Sioux City several years ago. The EPA says the glass from cathode ray tube monitors was left at the site by a recycling company that owned the land before BNSF bought it in 2014. The EPA says the cleanup will take about four months to complete. The EPA says the Sioux City site is one of six locations in Iowa and Nebraska where Recycletronics left roughly 16.9 million pounds of glass from the monitors behind.  Recycletronics was owned by former Sioux City Council Member Aaron Rochester.  Rochester is awaiting trial on criminal charges for failing to obtain a hazardous waste permit to store the glass. That company maintains that it is unable to pay for the cleanup.

Iowa congressman Steve King is on the outs with a significant bloc of his long-reliable conservative base, but not for almost two decades of comments about abortion, immigrants and Islam.

Instead, the nine-term congressman known for his nativist politics is fighting to prove he can still deliver for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. Since Republican leaders stripped him of his committee assignments, King has been dogged by

questions over whether he’s lost his effectiveness. King faces a potentially career-ending GOP primary on June 2. But should he eke out victory next week, there are Iowa Republicans who believe it could spell trouble for holding the GOP-heavy district in November.  You can listen to the candidates running for the 4th Congressional District live during a Siouxland Public Media Forum tomorrow at noon.

The meat and poultry industry has historically relied on immigrant labor to do some of the most dangerous jobs in America, from employing refugees to a notorious record of hiring immigrants in the U.S. illegally. Now that reliance and uncertainty about the pandemic is fueling concerns about possible labor shortages to meet demands for beef, pork and chicken. Companies struggling to hire are spending millions on fresh incentives. Whether there’ll be long-lasting difficulties hinge on if employees feel safe, unemployment, industry reforms and President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.  

One of the many troubling aspects of the coronavirus pandemic has been seeing farmers have to destroy crops and euthanize livestock at a time when millions are losing their jobs and demand is soaring at food banks. However, some states have begun spending more money to help pay for food that might otherwise go to waste and the U.S. Agriculture Department is spending $3 billion to help get farm products to food banks. New York dairy farmer Chris Noble says it's gratifying to find a way to avoid dumping milk and get nutritious products to people who need them.