The Coronavirus

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts today said the state is working to manage hospital staffing issues, including again setting up a transfer center so that patients could be moved based on hospital availability, according to WOW TV. 

Last week, the governor declared a staffing emergency for Nebraska hospitals.  Nebraska officials said the state was partnering with Nomi Health to help patients in need of a transfer to a hospital in the state. That service is expected to be operational on Saturday. 

This week on The Exchange, we take a look at how international events and issues, like the US military pullout from Afghanistan and the resurgance of the coronavirus, are affecting Americans and Siouxland residents.

This week on The Exchange, we have a roundtable discussion about the effects of the Coronavirus on schools, students, teachers and families. Siouxland Public Media's Mary Hartnett and Sheila Brummer speak with the families we have been following this fall semester. Each family has children enrolled in Siouxland public or private school. Our guests are Donna Behrens, Pam Venturi and Mandy Engle-Cartie. Engle-Cartie is the executive director of Girls Inc.

One out of every thousand Iowans have died of COVID-19, according to a Des Moines Register analysis of Iowa Department of Public Health data. More than 90% of the people who died were 60 or older. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates there were about 150,000 Iowans aged 80 or older before the pandemic. COVID-19 has killed more than 1% of them.

The department of health today reports another 77 COVID-19 deaths and an additional 2,057 confirmed cases. The state has had more than 274,000 thousand positive cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,000 deaths. Some of the deaths are from earlier in the pandemic as the state's numbers undergo methodology changes. Also, COVID-19 deaths can take up to a week to be reported on the state's website. There are 833 Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19.  For three-fourths of those patients, COVID-19 is the primary diagnosis.

This week on The Exchange, we talk about mask mandates in school and in Sioux City. It’s been almost a month since Iowa’s Governor issued a partial mask mandate for public spaces. We will talk about enforcing mask mandates, hear from Sioux City’s Police Chief Rex Mueller on the issue, and find out if anyone has faced legal action for not wearing a mask.

Iowa continues to see record numbers of coronavirus cases. Today the state reports more than 25 hundred new cases of COVID-19 and 85 additional deaths.  So far, Iowa has a total of 2,603 coronavirus deaths. There are 1,000 people hospitalized. The 14-day statewide positivity rate is 16.6%.
The deaths of four Woodbury County residents attributed to COVID-19 were reported today, as well as 142 new cases. 

This week on The Exchange, we have a wide-ranging conversation about the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Epidemiologist Dr. Eli Perencavich.

We begin our conversation with Siouxland District Health's Tyler Brock. Brock says despite the continuing numbers of additional cases of COVID-19 in Woodbury County, the numbers have decreased slightly in the last week.

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Iowa and Woodbury County COVID-19 Cases Rise

Nov 25, 2020

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Iowa today reported its highest single-day increase in COVID-19 deaths, topping the mark set one week ago. Woodbury County topped 10,00o coronavirus cases.
The Iowa Department of Public Health today reports another 47 additional deaths due to COVID-19. In total, 2,271 people with COVID-19 have died in Iowa, according to the state's website. There have been nearly 220 thousand positive cases.
In Woodbury County, there have been 49 cases added to the total case count.

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Iowa today reported its highest single-day increase in COVID-19 deaths, topping the mark set one week ago.
Today the Iowa of Department of Public Health reported another 47 additional deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. In total, 2,271 people with COVID-19 have died in Iowa, according to the state's website.

There have been 49 cases added to the total case count in the last 24 hours. Woodbury County continues to experience significant community spread of COVID-19. The county now has reached more than 10 thousand cases of the coronavirus and 96 deaths, according to Siouxland District Health.

Since the pandemic arrived in early March, more than 218 thousand people have tested positive for the coronavirus. Another 3,365 coronavirus cases have been reported since yesterday.
The increases come as Iowa hospitals struggle with the coronavirus surge.
The chairperson of the Iowa Hospital Association warned yesterday that the Iowa hospital region that includes the state's most populous area has at times in the last week been down to two or three intensive care unit beds as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lack of beds and staffing shortages have forced some Iowa hospitals to transfer patients to other facilities, Kirk Morris, the president of the association, said at a news conference.

The coronavirus continues to spread in Iowa.  More than 500 people with COVID-19 have died in the state so far this month and 2,224 overall, according to the state department of health.  There have been 82 cases added in the last 24 hours in Siouxland and one additional death of an elderly female. More than 4,500 residents of long term care centers are infected with the virus and 143 nursing homes reported coronavirus outbreaks today.

Iowa has surpassed 200,000 coronavirus cases today, with 4,359 confirmed additional cases. Another 25 people with COVID-19 have died, according to the state coronavirus website,

In Woodbury county, there have been 127 cases added in the last 24 hours. 
Siouxland District Health reports that there has been one additional death of an older adult female (61-80).

At a news conference today, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds talked about stemming the rising tide of COVID 19.  She also promoted her public information program.

There have been nearly 200 thousand total positive cases of covid 19 in Iowa, and more than two thousand deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. State health officials say there were 38 more deaths and almost 4,200 new cases this morningTuesday, the Governor announced tougher rules requiring Iowans to practice social distancing and wear masks in public places when they cannot social distance.

Governor Kim Reynolds will give a live address to Iowans about COVID-19 at 6:05 tonight.

A news release says Reynolds will announce new steps to fight the virus and talk about Iowans' need to practice virus mitigation efforts.

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The Sioux City Community School District this week has 11 reports of positive COVID-19 cases from students that attended school, and 21 reports of positive COVID-19 cases from staff that attended school.  The district moved several classrooms and one entire middle school to virtual learning this wee.  East Middle School and Sunnyside Elementary each had one classroom go virtual, Morningside STEM Elementary had two classrooms closed down, and West Middle School will hold only virtual classes through November 25, the day before Thanksgiving. 

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 The coronavirus continues to spread broadly across Iowa. 

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It is election day, and Iowa voters are expected to cast ballots in record numbers. Nearly a million people have cast absentee ballots.


Concerns about the coronavirus contributed to the surge in early voting. 64% of active Democratic voters and 42% of Republicans requested absentee ballots. 

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It is finally Election Day, and the polls are open across the country. Iowans have already cast roughly a million early ballots. Polls opened at about 1,200 polling places at 7 a.m. today, and voting will continue until 9 p.m. The Secretary of State's Office reports just over 2 million Iowa residents are registered to vote, and about half of them already cast an absentee ballot. 

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.

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%.

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:

COVID Cases Surge in Iowa and Across the Country

Oct 9, 2020

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The U.S. is averaging more than 45,000 new COVID-19 positive tests a day, up 8% from the previous week, and more than double what the country saw in June, the CDC reports.

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.

This week on The Exchange, COVID 19 cases continue to rise in Siouxland, and some school board members ask for a return to hybrid learning.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds today announced some changes in quarantine recommendations for people that have been exposed to positive cases of COVID-19. 

At her morning news conference today, Reynolds said, from now on, close contacts of COVID-positive cases would no longer need to quarantine for 14 days, if a face covering was worn consistently and correctly by the positive case and close contacts. Reynolds said school districts had expressed frustration with the quarantine recommendations. 


This week on The Exchange, what citizens may have to do to move the US to a universal health care system.  Nearly every other wealthy, developed country in the world has already done so.   Rosemarie Day is the author of new book on the subject.  She helped run the Massachusetts version of the Affordable Care Act.  


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Two more people have died from COVID-19 in the Siouxland metro area. The two people were women older than 80 years old in Woodbury County.

Today, the county's death toll from COVID-19 now stands at 61, according to the Siouxland District Health Department.

The county also reported 61 new positive test cases of the novel coronavirus today. Overall, there have been 4,802 cases in Woodbury County.

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Iowa has reported more than 11 hundred new confirmed coronavirus cases and 15 new deaths in the past 24 hours, as a federal report says the state has one of the nation’s highest infection rates. The state Coronavirus website says there are more than 78 thousand confirmed cases of coronavirus, an increase of 1,259 since 10 a.m. yesterday. 

Iowa can attribute almost 13 hundred deaths to COVID-19 since March.