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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 9.15.20: More IA Bars Reopening, Virtual Learning Issues, SD Deadly Crash Latest and More


SPM NEWS 9.15.20 - 4:32PM

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is allowing bars and night clubs to reopen tomorrow in four of the six counties where they’ve been closed because of high coronavirus rates.

Bars in Polk, Linn, Black Hawk and Dallas counties can reopen at 5:00 pm tomorrow Wednesday. Bars in Story and Johnson counties—the homes of Iowa State University and the University of Iowa—must remain closed for now.

For the past several weeks, the White House Coronavirus Task Force has recommended that Iowa close bars in the majority of Iowa’s 99 counties.

Officials in Iowa and across the country have said there’s evidence that the virus is spreading in crowded bars.  A spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Health says the state hasn’t received a White House task force report for this week.

Online learning is not going smoothly for some classes in the Sioux City Community School District.

During yesterday’s school board meeting, a parent to a second grader said she’s been “sorely disappointed” in virtual learning.

Amanda Gibson said her son’s class is overcrowded. And he’s received less than an hour a day of direct instruction from his teacher. 

“Instruction is given in a handful of 20-minute intervals. And most of that time is eaten up by parents and students asking technology-related questions, or showing off their pets, or talking about their upcoming birthdays.”

Superintendent Paul Gausman looked up that elementary classroom and said it has 55 students. The district is working to adjust class sizes of both virtual and in-person learning. 887 virtual students have moved to in-person learning since school began.

Morningside College student cases of COVID-19 doubled in the past week. The college’s COVID-19 dashboard shows 26 new cases with students and one staff member. 

The college provides weekly updates every Tuesday starting the week of Aug. 24 through the 30th. At that time, four students tested positive for the disease. There are currently 135 students in isolation or quarantine on and off-campus. Last week, there were 62.  A spokesperson says the number of students who are known to have tested positive is at almost exactly two percent of our on-campus student population, which is less than the number of known active cases in Woodbury County compared to the overall county population.

Siouxland District Health reported 43 new cases in Woodbury County in one day for a total of almost 4,600 cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

There is one more positive case of COVID-19 in Dakota County, Nebraska for 2080 in all and 43 deaths.

The University of Wisconsin chancellor says Big Ten football will remain on hold until there are answers to questions about COVID-19 testing and tracing, along with possible long-term heart issues related to the coronavirus. Leaders in the Big Ten are reconsidering a fall season after a weekend of meetings about a plan to begin play as soon as mid-October.

Credit Associated Press

Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank would not predict which way a vote to return to play would go. She says once Big Ten university leaders have their questions and concerns addressed, "we will try to plan a delayed season.”

Meanwhile, news reports from Omaha say the President of the University of Nebraska accidently said at the end of a news conference, an announcement on the fall football season resuming will come tonight. 

Officials in the state of South Dakota held a news conference Tuesday surrounding the deadly crash involving the state attorney general.

Governor Kristi Noem and the state Secretary of Public Safety says the investigative report into the crash will be made public, including the 911 call.

Credit Associated Press

Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg says he realized he hit and killed a man on a rural stretch of highway only after returning to the scene the next day and discovering the body.

The state’s top law enforcement officer says he thought he had hit a deer while driving home from a Republican fundraiser on Saturday night.

Ravnsborg, a native of Cherokee, Iowa says he called 911 immediately after the crash near Redfield.

Authorities identified the victim as 55-year-old Joseph Boever.  An autopsy is being done in Ramsay County Minnesota because the state’s pathologist wasn’t available.

The South Dakota State Patrol and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation are investigating the incident.

Iowa has won a 3 point 7 million dollar federal grant to expand mental health services in the wake of the derecho. The funds will extend an effort already in place to help Iowans cope with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The program Covid Recovery Iowa offers crisis counseling over the phone or online, as well as virtual support groups. Karen Hyatt is with the Iowa Department of Human Services.

“And since derecho hit we have seen an increase in all of those ways that people get ahold of us. And the main thing, I would say 90% of the need right now is housing and finances.”

To access mental health services, Iowans can go to covid-recovery-iowa-dot-org or call 844-775-9276.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that more than half a million acres of Iowa corn will not be harvested this fall due to damage caused by the Aug. 10 derecho that swept across the state. 

Corn prices have gone up due to the crop losses, so farmers will likely get more money for the corn they do harvest.

(Newscast information provided by Siouxland Public Media News, The Associated Press and IPR.)

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