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NEWS 7.7.23: Sioux City nursing home closure, drought update, Trump in Iowa, and more

U.S. Drought Monitor

Three more Iowa nursing homes are in the process of closing, including a Sioux City facility plagued by regulatory violations related to resident injuries and multiple deaths.

Countryside Health Care Center announced Thursday that due to financial pressures, it will be closing within the next 60 days. The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports, it is the 26th Iowa nursing home to announce its closing since June 2022.

Earlier this year, state inspectors cited Countryside for violations related to four resident deaths. By the time state inspectors investigated in April, the home had compiled a backlog of 19 complaints awaiting investigation by the state.

In addition to Countryside, two other care facilities — Valley View Community Home in Butler County and Pocahontas Manor in Pocahontas County – are now in the process of closing.

One industry official says workforce shortages lead to poor quality of care and closures.

Planned Parenthood plans to continue expanding, despite the Iowa Legislature’s special session next week which aims to enact anti-abortion legislation.

Officials with Planned Parenthood North Central States tell the Iowa Capital Dispatch Iowa has been classified as a reproductive health care desert, disproportionately affecting marginalized people who cannot afford to travel to another state for care. She said the situation will worsen with abortion restrictions.

More than a third of Iowa’s 99 counties — 35.4% — are maternity health care deserts, according to March of Dimes.

The Minnesota Department of Health recently reported an increase in Iowans traveling to Minnesota for abortions, with 174 Iowans seeking an abortion in Minnesota in 2022, compared to 56 in 2021.

Former President Donald Trump plans to headline his largest Iowa campaign event in nearly four months with a speech to thousands at an arena in the western part of the state. Trump will use Friday's appearance in Council Bluffs to attack his top GOP rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for opposing the federal mandate for ethanol, a renewable fuel addition that Iowa leads the nation in producing. Although caucus campaigns have become more focused on national party priorities over the past two decades, some candidates have portrayed support for ethanol as a litmus test in Iowa. But Sen. Ted Cruz won the state's 2016 GOP caucuses despite opposing the mandate.

Iowa’s soil had been drying out for six straight weeks until recent; repeated rainfalls ended the trend. For the full story check out this link from the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

The U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday reported a slight retreat in the state’s overall dryness. That stopped the spread of drought that had occupied about 26% of Iowa in mid-May, but grew to 89% last week. It is now estimated to cover about 87% of the state.

National Weather Service data show that a significant area of southern Iowa got at least 2 inches of rain in the past week and that some areas had more than 6 inches. Much smaller areas scattered throughout the rest of the state had between 2 and 4 inches, and much of north-central Iowa had little or no rainfall.

The Drought Monitor report on Thursday reflected that: Drought improved or abated in far southern Iowa but worsened in west-central and east-central parts of the state.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also reported improvements this week in crop field moisture. About 45% of topsoil has adequate or surplus water. That is up from 33% the week before.

The largest increase in available topsoil moisture happened in south-central Iowa, the USDA said, where 65% had adequate or surplus water, compared with 18% the week prior.

Showers are expected to sweep across the state throughout the day. Rainfall totals could vary significantly.

June rainfall was significantly deficient: Less than 3 inches was recorded on average statewide, which is about 55% of what is normally expected.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports severe drought or worse is still present in about 44% of the state, and there are areas of extreme drought — the second-worst classification denoted by the Drought Monitor — in far western and southern Iowa.