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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 9.24.20: Regional C-19 Surge, 1st Death in Ida County, Deputy Arrested and More

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State of South Dakota
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South Dakota is seeing another record day for new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations six months after the state of the pandemic.

The department of health reported eight more deaths on Thursday, including one more in Union County.  That ties the death rate reported last Wednesday.

There are 463 new confirmed cases in South Dakota.  That beats yesterday’s record by 18 new cases.

There have been 210 deaths in South Dakota with seven in Union County, five in Clay and four in Yankton County.  The three counties in southeast South Dakota saw more than 1,300 positive cases.

In Nebraska, Dakota County health officials report one more death due to complications of the disease for a total of 44 and four new cases.

Nebraska is also seeing a surge in new cases, doctors tell Omaha TV station WOWT people need to mask up.

Northwest Iowa still sees high positivity rates for new cases of the novel coronavirus. 

Anything above 15% is one of the criteria for a school district to apply for on-line learning only.  Sioux County still tops the state with 30.6%, Osceola is at 27.5%.  Other counties above the 15% threshold are Sac, Cherokee, Ida and Lyon.  Woodbury County has inched up to 15.8%.  Siouxland District Health reported 64 new cases during a 24-hour timeframe. 

The Ida County Department of Public Health today announced the first death associated with COVID-19 in the county;  a person over the age of 80 years-old.  In a news release, the public health coordinator for Ida County says, “We wish to extend our sympathy to this individual’s family and Ida County Public Health and all of our key partners throughout the county and state continue to work to limit the spread and impact of this virus in our communities.”

Only three counties haven’t reported a fatality during the pandemic.  They are Osceola, Sac and Palo Alto.

Northwest Iowa still sees high positivity rates for new cases of the novel coronavirus.  Anything above 15% is one of the criteria for a school district to apply for on-line learning only.  Sioux County still tops the state with 30.6%, Osceola is at 27.5%.  Other counties above the 15% threshold are Sac, Cherokee, Ida and Lyon.  Woodbury County has inched up to 15.8%. 

Even as new positive cases of COVID-19 quickly increase across northwest Iowa, school superintendents say they’re doing what they can to keep their students in class. 

More than 200 students and staff from the Sibley-Ocheyedan Community School District are in isolation or quarantine because of COVID-19. That includes Superintendent James Craig, who is quarantining. But Craig says moving the district to hybrid or virtual learning would make it harder for staff to keep tabs on students and their mental health. So the district is developing a plan to split up classrooms that currently can’t social distance. 

"By increasing social distancing, we’re keeping ourselves in control of what is most important to us, and that is having the safest learning environment for our students possible and keeping them in school." 

Meanwhile, MOC-Floyd Valley’s superintendent says they’ve coordinated with a local movie theater to rent four theaters for high school classes, so students can space out better.

A new poll by the Des Moines Register/Mediacom shows more Iowans disapprove of Governor Reynolds’ handling of the pandemic.

It shows 47% disapprove and 44% approve.

A poll in June showed an approval rating of 59%.

Even though the entire state has not received rain in more than a week, Iowa’s drought conditions remain unchanged.

A former Plymouth County Sheriff’s Deputy has been charged with several counts of burglary and theft.

Investigators say Aaron Leusink is suspected of criminal activity from December of 2017 to January of this year.  He was terminated from his job in April.

Bond was set at $30,000 cash for Leusink who faces four felony and three misdemeanor charges, including unlawful possession of prescription drugs.  

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Credit Credit Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation
AARON LEUSINK

News release from the IA Dept. of Criminal Investigation:

On Thursday September 24, 2020, former Plymouth County Deputy Aaron Leusink was taken into custody by agents with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. Leusink has been charged with multiple criminal charges related to burglaries and thefts that occurred while he was employed as a Plymouth County Sheriff’s deputy between December 2017 and January 2020.

The following is the list of charges pending against Leusink:

- 1 count of Burglary 1st Degree (Class B Felony)

- 2 counts of Burglary in the 2nd Degree (Class C Felony)

- 2 counts of Burglary in the 3rd Degree (Class D Felony)

- Felonious Misconduct in Office (Class D Felony)

- Unlawful Possession of Prescription Drugs (Serious Misdemeanor)

- 1 count of theft in the 4th Degree (Serious Misdemeanor)

- 3 Counts of theft in the 5th Degree (Simple Misdemeanor)

A $30,000.00 cash or surety bond has been set for Leusink.

On April 16, 2020, the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office, while conducting a review of their internal records, became aware of potential criminal acts that involved Leusink.  At that time, Plymouth County Sheriff Mike VanOtterloo requested that the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation review and handle the investigation.

Leusink was terminated on April 23, 2020, from the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office. 

The U.S. Drought Monitor released today shows no Iowa counties in the extreme drought category. Two weeks ago, there 18 in the west central part of the state.

The monitor lists a little more than 47 percent of the state in moderate drought. That number two weeks ago was 72 percent.

More than three quarters of Iowa is still abnormally dry.

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Credit U.S. Drought Monitor

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