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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 6.23.20: C19 Update, Fair Beef Price Fight and Abortion Wait Lawsuit

Iowa Department of Public Health

SPM NEWS 6.23.20 - 4:32PM

Two more people have died over a 24-hour period in the state of Iowa due to complications of COVID-19 for a total of 688 deaths.  More than half were residents of long-term care facilities.

There are five additional cases in Woodbury County out of 121 new tests and 42 deaths.   There are now 3,077 confirmed cases in Woodbury County and 1,757 in Dakota County with four new confirmed cases and 34 deaths.

Sioux City’s two hospitals reported a small uptick in patients being treated for COVID-19.  MercyOne and UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s say they are caring for a total of 32 patients.  That’s three more than yesterday.

The State of Iowa plans to close two Test Iowa sites this week including one in Siouxland.  The Sioux County location will close when testing ends tonight at 6pm.  The other location is in Ottumwa in Wapello County.  There will still be 18 Test Iowa sites including eight larger drive-thru spots including Buena Vista County.  Ten clinics are available in Crawford, Carroll and Dickinson Counties that are part of a partnership with local health care providers.

Within weeks of Gov. Kim Reynolds agreeing to allow bars and restaurants to open to customers, Iowa’s two major college towns are seeing spikes in coronavirus cases among young adults.

The trend is raising concerns among local health officials and prompting some businesses to again close their doors.

Business owners in Iowa have welcomed the governor’s move to end most restrictions that had been imposed over the spring to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but some in Ames and Iowa City now are unsure what to do as cases rise.

The cities are home to Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, the state’s largest colleges.

Nebraska confirmed another 147 new coronavirus cases and five more deaths on Monday as the state further loosened its social-distancing restrictions. The state's online tracking portal shows a total of 17,957 coronavirus cases and 249 deaths since the pandemic began. So far, 158,827 residents have been tested. New rules that went into effect Monday allow bars, restaurants and other venues to allow more people inside. Restaurants and bars are now allowed to use their full capacity as long as they practice social distancing and ensure additional hygiene practices.  New numbers will be released on Tuesday night.

The U.S. Senate agriculture committee gavels in this week for the first time since the pandemic disruption. And Iowa’s senior senator is hoping it will take up a bill he introduced to ensure independent cattle ranchers have fair access to the market

Republican Chuck Grassley says the current situation has packing plants buying as little as 20 percent of the cattle they need from independent producers. The bill calls for packers to buy at least 50 percent of their cattle on the open market. Grassley says that should reduce meat companies’ influence on prices, which is significant when the packers tap their own cattle herds instead of buying from farmers.

“You can’t have 80% of the market controlled by people that are working ahead of time to set that market, particularly when you have a lot of packers owning their own livestock.”

Grassley says he expects a majority of the committee to support the bill, though Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas is not in favor.

Two organizations filed a lawsuit that seeks to stop a 24-hour waiting period for abortions that was approved by Iowa lawmakers in the closing hours of the legislative session.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and a doctor represented by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa filed the suit Tuesday in state court.

The suit seeks to block the measure and to impose a temporary injunction to stop it from taking effect July 1.

The groups filing the suit expect the bill to be signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is an outspoken opponent of abortion rights.

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