News 4.29.29: Gov. Defends Opening Parts of IA, Focus on Woodbury Co., Tyson Production Down & More

Apr 29, 2020

IOWA GOVERNOR KIM REYNOLDS - APRIL 29, 2020

Iowa reported the deadliest day due to COVID-19 with a dozen deaths for a total of almost 150.

“We know COVID-19 poses the most risk to people who are older and those with underlying heath conditions.  The vast majority of deaths are with that vulnerable population,” said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says she plans to take extra action to deal with a surge of cases in Woodbury County.

There are a total of almost 750. That’s more than 10% of cases in the state.

Reynolds says extra testing through “Test Iowa “should arrive in Woodbury County early next week, plus surveillance to monitor for community spread.

Reynolds also defended her actions to open restaurants and other businesses in a majority of Iowa counties with few coronavirus cases.

“I just didn’t rip off the band aid and flip the light switch.  We are doing it in a reasonable, phased-in approach and we will look at the date and I know Iowans will continue to be responsible.”

Reynolds says University of Iowa professors who warned reopening business now could cause a second wave of infections were presenting a model that was a snapshot in time.

She says improved testing and mitigation efforts have successfully prevented hospitals from being overwhelmed.

Siouxland District Health reports 142 of Woodbury County's cases have met the criteria to be released from public health monitoring and are considered recovered.

Thirty are hospitalized.  That’s the highest number so far in our area.

One of the region’s largest medical facilities is seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients.

The  Chief Medical Officer of MercyOne, Dr. Larry Volz says the increase is related to the vast number of testing.  He adds it is not overwhelming at this point, but he is seeing an increase of traffic through the E.R. in addition to hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

Sioux City’s other hospital also released a statement as well:

"UnityPoint Health is committed to protecting the privacy of our patients and cannot provide specific details regarding any individual patient in our care. Public health officials at Siouxland District Health Department continue to take the lead in providing regular updates regarding suspected and confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Iowa."

Three residents at Regency Square in South Sioux City tested positive for COVID-19. Nye Health Services who owns the long-care facility says the residents are not showing any signs or symptoms but are in isolation.

The facility was notified on Friday an employee tested positive a day earther.  Testing of all residents started on April 25th.

(see statement below for more information.)

The site of a suspected outbreak in Siouxland is the Tyson Foods Plant in Dakota City.  The company won’t disclose the number of workers impacted.  A spokesperson does say the plant is operating, but not at full production.  Operations have been scaled back due to safety precautions and employees absent from work.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts says more than 104,000 have signed up for testing through TestNebraska.com.

He has a goal of performing 3,000 test per day.

Ricketts urged people to continue social distancing and limiting the number of gatherings to 10 or less especially with holidays like Cinco De Mayo on the way.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, South Dakota reports 60 more cases for almost 2,400 people and 11 deaths.

Unions in the U.S. meat packing industry say President Donald Trump is jeopardizing lives and putting cold cuts over workers' health.

Trump signed an executive order classifying meat processing as critical infrastructure.

Trump says it would limit liability issues. 

However, Indiana University law professor Todd Haugh says the president’s move could limit liability,  but can’t override a statute that allows criminal liability.  

“It’s by no means a blanket get out of jail free card, if these food producers are not following the proper safety protocols, even if they are asked to stay open under the defense production act.”

Haugh says every meatpacking plant will have to figure out how to reduce the spread of food-borne illness and of COVID-19 among employees.  You can hear more about the liability of meatpackers during this week’s edition of “The Exchange” with Hary Hartnett.

One union estimates nationwide 6,500 workers are sick or have been exposed while working near someone who tested positive. At least 20 workers have died.

On Tuesday, Seaboard Triumph reported 11 workers tested positive. 

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is promising to boost outreach efforts to the town of Crete.  It’s the state’s newest coronavirus hot spot where local meatpacking workers staged a brief, impromptu walkout out of fear for their own safety.

About 50 workers at the Smithfield Foods pork plant walked off the job after company officials announced that the facility would remain open, just hours after they had said it would close to contain an outbreak.

The walkout wasn’t union-sanctioned, and the workers eventually went back into the plant to discuss their concerns with managers. But their local union representative says it highlights the stress many workers are feeling.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has unveiled her plan to get South Dakota “back to normal”.

She advised schools and businesses to allow limited gatherings while still encouraging people to keep their distance from one another.

Noem said Tuesday that she won't force people to take precautions to limit the spread of the coronavirus. But she has acknowledged that more social activity could result in flareups of the disease.

She says the state's response is a “balancing act” between slowing infections and allowing some semblance of daily life. Noem says her plan is all about putting decision-making “into the hands of the people.”

News release from the owner of Regency Square:

On April 28th Nye Health Services learned that 3 residents at our Regency Square campus in the skilled care area tested positive for COVID 19 virus. The residents are not showing any signs or symptoms but are in isolation.   The residents’ responsible parties have been notified and will be kept informed as the situation changes.  All other residents’ responsible parties were notified of the current situation and the steps we are taking to protect all residents at the campus.       

Kristin Harris, the Nye Health Services Vice President of Operations, along with the Mikel Ardley, the Campus Executive Director, are in close consultation with the Dakota County Health Department and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). They are apprised of the situation and are working with the Campus team on appropriate mitigation efforts.

Resident safety and minimizing any potential spread of the virus is the top priority for Regency Square. The residents are in isolation to reduce the potential spread of the virus. The Campus continues to follow Center for Disease Control (CDC), Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and DHHS recommended guidelines for healthcare facilities during the current COVID-19 pandemic. On April 24th we were notified that on April 23rd a team member had tested positive for the COVID virus.  The Dakota County Health Department and DHHS were notified immediately and began to support the efforts of the campus.  Testing of all residents on the campus occurred on April 25th.  The current positives came from that testing.  Testing of team members began on April 24th.  Currently there are no other known positive test results of either team members or residents.   Also, based upon the circumstances of the situation Regency Square initiated additional mitigation measures on April 24th at the campus. These included increasing our assessment of all residents to twice daily to identify signs or symptoms of the virus.  All team members continue to wear masks at all times, which was implemented on March 29th, and the Campus increased their assessment of team members to twice daily.

Several weeks ago, we reviewed and updated our infection control procedures on the campus in light of emerging information from the CDC regarding the COVID 19 virus.  We continue to monitor and update our procedures as recommended. We know that the frail, elderly are especially susceptible to this virus.  Our efforts to control this virus on our campus are crucial and a key priority. 

The health and safety of all residents and team members is our greatest concern. We will continue to update information about COVID-19 that could impact the health and well-being of our residents or our general operations at Regency Square.  

Nye Health Services has a web page dedicated to answer frequently asked questions about COVID-19 at www.nyehealthservices.com/covid-19/,  which is updated with information received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Questions can also be submitted to our COVID specific email address: covid@nyehealthservices.com