News 9.25.20: C-19 Local Surge, Sioux City School Update, Absentee Ballot Change and More
Local health officials say the number of new cases of COVID-19 in Woodbury County is comparable to what we experienced during the height of the pandemic in the spring. Siouxland District Health released weekly trends today.
In early May, the peak of new cases in one week’s time, totaled 667. Last week, there were 465 new confirmed cases. That was double the number from the week before and six straight weeks of increases.
There were 100 new cases reported today.
Siouxland District Heath says the current situation is due to choices made by individuals. They urge people to take precautions in helping stop the spread of the disease.
The number of hospitalizations is on the rise as well. There are a total of 51 patients with 38 being treated due strictly to COVID-19. That is an increase of 15% from earlier this week.
Siouxland Public Media reached out to Sioux City’s two hospitals treating patients for the illness for comment about the increase.
They issued a joint statement it says, “MercyOne Siouxland and UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s are continuing to manage the increase in patients while ensuring we provide the safest care environment to meet the health care needs of our communities. Additionally, we still have the ability to flex to 150% of our normal capacity.”
Data from Siouxland District Health shows of Woodbury County residents who were hospitalized since the outbreak, almost 10% were in the age group of 21-to-30. The largest demographic for hospitalizations are adults between the ages of 61 and 70 at just over 21%. Nearly 20% are people in two different middle age categories from age 41 to 60-years old.
Fifteen counties in the state are now above the 14-day, 15% positivity rate with many located in northwest Iowa. Sioux County is more than double, with more than 31%. Lyon and Osceola are around 27.5%. Other counties in Siouxland above 15% are Sac, Plymouth, O’Brien, Palo Alto. Woodbury County is currently at 15.7%, up slightly from yesterday afternoon.
Another above 15% positivity is one of the criteria for school districts in a specific county to apply for on-line learning only.
The Sioux City Community School District reported 32 addition positive tests this week from students and staff members. That breaks down to 15 students and 17 staff throughout 17 buildings including operations and maintenance. Contact tracing was done with Siouxland District and the school leaders say anyone impacted was notified. Three elementary school had no new cases. They are Spaulding, Riverside and Irving.
Five classes were put into emergency response virtual learning. They include classes at Hunt, Leeds, Loess Hill and Morningside Elementary.
New coronavirus cases in Iowa have jumped by more than 1,000 in the last 24 hours marking the second consecutive day of new cases exceeding 1,000. Four more people died pushing the state’s death toll from the virus to 1,303.
Data from state health and education departments indicate the virus is circulating in schools and nursing homes.
Multiple school districts are reporting hundreds of students in quarantine after positive cases were identified in a school.
State health data shows more than 6,900 children under age 17 in Iowa have tested positive for the virus.
The state also reports 50 nursing homes have a virus outbreak with more than 1,000 residents testing positive currently.
There are outbreaks at 8 nursing homes in northwest Iowa, including Sunrise Retirement Community and Embassy in Woodbury County.
Nebraska public health officials have confirmed 453 new cases of the coronavirus but no new deaths. The state's online tracking portal says the total number of known cases has reached 42,731 as of Thursday evening. Of those cases, 462 people have died since the pandemic began. Nearly 438,000 people have been tested so far. Despite the increase, the number of available hospital beds has remained stable. State officials say 33% of Nebraska’s hospital beds, 27% of its intensive care unit beds and 80% of its ventilators are still available for coronavirus patients if needed.
The state of South Dakota is reporting 457 new coronavirus infections on this Friday, Sept. 25th; 20,554 people in total have been infected with coronavirus in the state.
So far, 216 people have died statewide due to infection.
There have been 16,831 recoveries, adding up to 3,507 active cases of COVID infection statewide.
Members of the University of Iowa women’s swimming and diving team are suing the school over a decision to eliminate their program. The lawsuit argues that Iowa is not offering equal opportunity for female students in sports as required by a 1972 law that bars gender discrimination in federally funded education programs. The plaintiffs are four members of the team. They want a court to reinstate their program. They're also seeking class-action status for all female undergraduate students and more sports opportunities. The university is cutting men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis and men’s gymnastics due to budget woes.
Iowa’s Legislative Council has unanimously approved a plan to give county auditors more time to process absentee ballots.
Under state law, election officials can start counting mail-in ballots on the day before Election Day.
Due to the coronavirus, auditors are expecting a surge in absentee ballots, and some worry they won’t be able to count them all on Election Night.
But the change approved today will let officials start opening the envelopes that contain the ballots the Saturday before Election Day.
In order to be counted, an absentee ballot must get to the auditor’s office by the time polls close on Election Day, or be postmarked by the day before the election, and arrive in the auditor’s office by noon on the Monday after the election.