Noon News 3.25.20: 1st COVID-19 Death in IA, SD School Update and Local Education Reaction

Mar 25, 2020

Credit IA DEPT. OF PUBLIC HEALTH

The state of Iowa reports 21 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 for a total of 145. 

This comes the day after Governor Kim Reynolds announced the state's first death linked to the coronavirus outbreak.

The victim is a resident of Dubuque County who was between 61 and 80 years old.

Another news conference is planned for 2:30 this afternoon.

Gov. Pete Ricketts is urging Nebraska residents to quarantine themselves for at least two weeks if they've recently traveled anyplace that has seen a big outbreak of the new coronavirus, including major U.S. cities like Denver and Kansas City.

Ricketts is issuing the new precaution as state officials try to keep the virus from spreading, but he says he won't order any tougher restrictions than those already in place.

He also offered suggestions on how businesses can continue operating during the pandemic during a Facebook Live event.

Gov. Kristi Noem says South Dakota may be as much as eight weeks away from the peak of COVID-19 and needs to continue limiting business activity even as President Donald Trump considers relaxing national guidance.

The Republican governor says she'll continue to support restrictions on businesses and social gatherings. 

The governor also said schools will remain closed until May 1st.

Schools across the state of Iowa are following the Governor’s recommendation to call off classes for four weeks.  For now, that means students in the Sioux City school district won’t return until April 14th, at the earliest.  

Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman says the challenge is even more difficult for the class of 2020.

“But, those rites of passage that we go through in high school because of course they happen in the spring of your senior year.”

Dr. Gausman says there are about 1,000 students graduating this spring and the district will have to assess each one to see if they have enough credits to move onto the next stage of their lives.

The former head of Woodbury County social services is running for Supervisor.

Patty Erickson-Puttmann of Pierson is seeking the seat currently held by Republican Rocky De Witt of Lawton.  He is running for re-election in District 5.

The county paid a settlement of more than $180,000 to Erickson-Puttman after she filed a sexual discrimination and retaliation lawsuit.  She says her salary was cut after she filed a state complaint over her treatment.  She resigned almost nine months ago. 

The deadline for other candidates to file is today at 5 p.m.  The general election takes place on November 3rd.

Sioux City Council Member Alex Watters says he does have mixed emotions when it comes to the state of Iowa’s response to COVID-19.

He applauds the decision to shut down schools and certain businesses but would like more testing for the illness.

“That’s really going to be really important to where we are at, especially as a state.”

Watters says he very concerned about people who are out of work and facing a financial crisis.

Watters says the city is looking at trying to not shut off utilities and to have people reach out to the city if they can’t pay past-due bills.

“Do as much as you can to be there for the people you love.  Reach out to your family, friends, your neighbors, people in the community are hurting.”

Watters says Sioux City has risen to adversity in the past and he expects that to be the case with COVID-19 as well.