Siouxland Public Media News

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Today we have an update from the Reblitz family in Moville. Their two school-age children attend Woodbury Central Schools.  Their father Donny Reblitz is on the school Board.  Their mother Stacey teaches at the elementary school.  Today we learn that their son Jackson tested positive for COVID-19 and had some serious symptoms.

For several weeks into the school year, the family had not been affected by the coronavirus, but recently, their son Jackson became ill and tested positive for the virus.

OCTOBER 30, 2020

Ninety-nine people have died in Woodbury County due to complications of COVID-19 after the addition of the death of an elderly man.  There were another 93 cases for a total of almost 7,500 since the start of the pandemic, with two-thirds recovered.  

South Dakota Department of Health

A grim record set by the state of South Dakota when it comes to COVID-19.  The number of deaths recorded in one day was 19.

Previously, the most fatalities was 14, reported on October 8th and 22nd.  There were almost 1,000 new cases added in one day. 

South Dakota has the worst rate of positive tests, hospitalizations and cases per 100,000 people in the country, according to data compiled by the New York Times.

North Dakota still leads the nation in deaths.

Associated Press

More Iowans than ever before have been hospitalized due to complications of COVID-19.  The current number, according to the state coronavirus website is 596 including 75 at Sioux City’s two facilities.  The statewide rate of hospitalizations is more than 30% higher than peak during the spring.

Twenty-two have died from the virus in the past 24-hours with more than 1,800 testing positive.

Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Theresa Greenfield, paused campaign events today after a staffer was exposed to the disease. 

Today on The Exchange, we talk with incumbent Republican US Senator Joni Ernst and her challenger Democrat Theresa Greenfield.  In two separate interviews, the candidates talk about their priorities and differences in the lead up to the November 3rd election next Tuesday. 

Trisha Etringer

In these final days before the election there is a push to get people to the polls.  There is also work being done locally to reach the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) vote.

Trisha Etringer is Director of Operations for the Great Plains Action Society and Iowa Field Coordinator for Vote Mob.  She talked to Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer about her work and goals for the future.

A “Power to the People” virtual event is taking place on November 1, 2020.  For more information click here

Siouxland District Health Department

Twenty-two Iowans have died of complications of COVID-19 in the past 24-hours with almost 1,200 new cases reported.

The positivity rate for testing in the state during that timeframe was 12.5%.  The 14-day rate is 10.6%, so the rate is on the way up. 

Sixteen counties have a 14-day positivity rate for new testing above the 15% threshold.  That level is one criteria for school districts to apply for on-line learning only. Woodbury County is 12th in the state with a rate of 15.5%. 

The coronavirus is getting worse in states that President Donald Trump needs the most.

The number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 infection continues to break records for all three Siouxland States. 

The number of people hospitalized statewide in Iowa with the virus increased to 561 on Monday, including 62 in Sioux City’s two facilities. 

Iowa had 677 new confirmed cases Monday with 60 in Woodbury County.  Siouxland District Health also says one more person in Woodbury County died for a total of 97; a man between the ages of 18 and 40.  Since the start of the pandemic 1,645 Iowans have died of complications of COVID-19.

 Yesterday was the first day with more than 70,000 new US Covid-19 cases in three months in the United States, and the hospitalization rate is soaring, new data reveal. Thursday was also the highest day for new infections since July 24 and the day with the fourth-highest total ever, at 71,671, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Thirty-two states reported rising Covid-19 infections. 

Siouxland District Health Department

The state of Iowa reporting another 15 people have died of complications of COVID-19, including one more in Woodbury County, for 94 in all.

There were more than 1,400 confirmed new cases of the virus statewide.

Health officials reported 530 people were being treated in Iowa hospitals for the virus, down slightly from the 535 people hospitalized on Wednesday.

Siouxland District Health says Sioux City’s two hospitals are treating 70 patients with COVID-19.

The number of Iowa residents dying from the coronavirus is quickly rising again after weeks of increasing hospitalizations and outbreaks at nursing homes. The Iowa Department of Public Health reported 31 new deaths from the virus Wednesday, the most confirmed in a 24-hour period since the beginning of the pandemic. That does not mean that 31 people died in one day. The increase results from the fact that the state received 31 new reports of confirmed COVID—19 deaths through medical examiners and death certificates. Many of the deaths happened a few or several days ago.

102120 304Coronavirus cases continue to grow in Iowa.  Iowa reported record high COVID-19 deaths today,  with 31 people dying of the novel coronavirus along with an additional 1,276 confirmed cases. The state's death toll to 1,579.  The state also reported 534 people hospitalized, topping Tuesday's high of 501.According to the state's coronavirus website, there were 646 new, confirmed cases of the coronavirus this morning. 

Iowa's unemployment rate for September dropped to 4.7%, continuing a five-month trend of hiring after the state's economy was hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

 Iowa Workforce Development reported today that the unemployment rate was down from 6% in August. The rate has declined every month since April when unemployment peaked in Iowa.

The U.S. unemployment rate in September was 7.9%.

Harrison County Home & Public Health

This past weekend a post on social media caught the attention of Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer.  Someone from her hometown area wrote about the impact of COVID-19 on nursing homes in west central Iowa’s Harrison County. 

This person wrote, “It’s a sad, sad time for our towns”.  She heard a majority of residents at a care facility in Dunlap tested positive for COVID-19, including her grandmother.  She also saw several posts about deaths.

Iowa Department of Public Health

Iowa has reported nearly 3,000 new confirmed positive coronavirus cases in the last three days.

The state Department of Public Health reported 1,595 confirmed cases Saturday, another 915 on Sunday and 508 new confirmed cases Monday.

During that time, the department reported 13 more deaths from the coronavirus. There were 480 people being treated in Iowa hospitals for the virus, just below a record high set last week.

Facebook/Gov. Pete Ricketts

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced new restrictions on Friday after a surge of new cases and hospitalizations in Nebraska.

“It’s pained me to put restrictions on people’s personal liberty and businesses. But, it was necessary to be able to preserve hospital capacity.”

Statewide there are more than 320 hospitalized with COVID-19.  That’s 40% more than May, during the peak of the pandemic.

“Remember all the steps we have taken is to preserve hospital capacity with 30% of hospital beds, 29% of ICU beds and 70% of ventilators.”

Siouxland District Health Department

In one day another 1,400 Iowans tested positive for the novel coronavirus, including almost 90 in Woodbury County.  There were 13 more deaths statewide.  Siouxland District Health reports one more death in Woodbury County, an elderly woman for a total of 82 deaths since the start of the pandemic. 

Hospitalizations also continued to increase as the state set a new high of 482 people being treated in hospitals, and 64 at Sioux City’s two hospitals.

Outbreaks were reported in 61 long-term care facilities, including 13 in northwest Iowa and four in Woodbury County.

This week on The Exchange, we have a taped forum with the 4th District Congressional candidates.  They are Republican Randy Feenstra of Hull and Democrat JD Scholten of Sioux City. Siouxland Public Media's Mary Hartnett is the moderator.  First, the candidates introduce themselves.

Below is a link to the Zoom forum:

State of South Dakota

State officials in South Dakota today offered a few of their investigative findings surrounding state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg hit and killed a pedestrian.

The say Jason Ravnsborg had no alcohol in his bloodstream when he was tested the day after his car struck and killed a pedestrian.

Ravnsborg initially told a county sheriff that he thought he struck a deer the night of Sept. 12 on U.S. Highway 14 near Highmore in central South Dakota.

Twitter/Theresa Greenfield


Three more people have died in Woodbury County due to complications of COVID-19.  Siouxland District health says the deaths include a man and woman between the ages of 61 and 80, and an elderly man.  The death toll since the start of the pandemic is now 81 for Woodbury County. 

More than 100,000 Iowans have tested positive for the coronavirus according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.  More than three-quarters have recovered.

There were more than 400 cases added today and a total of 1,472 deaths.

All three Siouxland States are seeing record levels of hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

In Iowa, there are 449 patients with Siouxland District Health reporting 72 getting treatment at Sioux City’s two hospitals.  There were 31 in the middle of September.  Siouxland District Health recorded two more deaths in Woodbury County for a total of 76.  There were more than 100 new cases.

Siouxland District Health Department

Gov. Kim Reynolds acknowledged Iowa is seeing surging numbers of coronavirus cases and record hospitalizations, but she says the health care system could handle the increase and no further action was needed to reduce infections.

There were 444 people being treated for the coronavirus in hospitals as of Wednesday morning, and in the past 24 hours the state had 919 new confirmed positive cases and 15 more deaths.  The biggest increase comes from increased hospitalizations in northwest Iowa, including 62 at Sioux City’s two hospitals, according to Siouxland District Health.

FACEBOOK/Tom Peterson Memorial Foundation

The Tom Peterson Memorial Foundation took a final bow.  A post today on social media says the board of directors agreed to end operations and make one final contribution to the Sioux City Community Theatre.

The foundation honored the memory of the popular KCAU weather anchor and General Manager of the Community Theatre who died in a car accident in 1994.

In 26-years the foundation granted more than $200,000 to support the community theature.

With the impact of COVID-19 the theatre the board thought the timing was right to give a final gift of $22,000.

Chris Janicek stops by the Siouxland Public Media Studios on October 7, 2020
Siouxland Public Media

Chris Janicek is running for U.S. Senate in the State of Nebraska.  Janicek, a baker from Omaha, made headlines when the Democratic Party of Nebraska withdrew support and resources in June and called for him to pull out of the race.

Janicek visited Siouxland and sat down for an interview about the text-message controversy that put him on the outs with his party, the uphill battle he faces against incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, health care, agriculture and the environment.

A suburban Des Moines educator has died from complications of COVID-19, but it's unclear if she contracted the virus at school or elsewhere. 

The principal of Indian Hills Junior High School says special education assistant Jennifer Crawford, died Monday. The school is in West Des Moines. Iowa has the fourth-highest coronavirus positivity rate in the nation.

Only 10 of Iowa's 99 counties are below the 5% threshold at which public health experts recommend measures to slow the spread of the virus, including mandatory masks and limits on gatherings.

Republican groups are asking the Iowa Supreme Court today to stay a judge's ruling blocking the enforcement of a state order. That order has been used to invalidate tens of thousands of absentee ballot requests.

The Republican National Committee, President Trump's campaign, and other GOP groups said that Iowa's election administration could be thrown into "chaos" if the ruling stands.

October 5, 2020
Facebook/Nebraska Medicine

Health officials in Nebraska say the state has entered a dangerous period during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deaths in Nebraska have topped 500 according to the latest update from Sunday night with more people hospitalized with the virus than ever before.

There were 400 new cases, for a total of more than 47,800 since the state of the pandemic.  Nebraska health officials say a third of the state’s intensive care beds remain available. 

Facebook/Siouxland Community Health Center

The Sioux City Community School District reports a decrease of new COVID-19 cases involving students and staff.

Last week were 32 cases; this week - 26, with more staff than students being impacted. (10 students – 16 staff).  New cases were identified in 14 buildings in the district.  

One third grade class at Leeds Elementary was put in emergency response virtual learning.  Last week, there were five classes.

The school district provides an update every Friday and says contract tracing was done in conjunction with Siouxland District Health. 

Twitter/Governor Kim Reynolds

Iowa posted more than 1,000 new confirmed coronavirus cases for the third straight day as the coronavirus continued to aggressively spread in many areas of the state, including northwest Iowa.

State public health data posted this morning showed 1,142 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours with over 90,700 cases now identified since March.

The state posted nine additional deaths for a total of 1,367.  There was one more death recorded in Woodbury County on the state coronavirus website for 69 in all. 

The Vakulskas Family

A well-known Siouxland priest passed away on Sunday, September 27th due to complications of COVID-19 and cancer at the age of 76.

Father John Vakulskas served many Catholic parishes in Siouxland during his half-century career.  He was also known as the “Carnival Priest” and was appointed International Coordinator of Carnival Ministries by Pope John Paull II in 1993.   

His nephew Brian Vakulskas of Sioux City talks to Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer about Father John's life and the impact of COVID-19 on his uncle's beloved amusement park industry and health.