December 4, 2020 - 1:29 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The state website tracking deaths during the pandemic shows more than a quarter of the Iowans who’ve died after testing positive for COVID died in the month of November.

Governor Kim Reynolds says the record number of deaths last month is connected to the high numbers of Iowans who’ve recently tested positive for the virus.

(As above) “You’ll see an uptick in positive cases and if you look at the numbers on the website about two weeks later you’re going to see an increase in the hospitalizations,” Reynolds says, “and then about two weeks after that is what you start to see some of the deaths occur.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, a record 165 Iowa nursing homes had COVID outbreaks, with more than 52-hundred residents and staff infected with the virus — also a record. Reynolds says the state agencies that oversee the nursing home industry are reviewing infection control measures at facilities with outbreaks.

(As above) “Now that Thanksgiving has passed, we’re also going to be closely monitoring case counts, positivity rate and hospitalizations over the next two weeks for any significant increase,” Reynolds says. “…We are cautiously optimistic that the mitigation efforts currently in place are achieving what they are intended to do and get it into a more manageable level.”

Reynolds says the state made what she describes as “slow, steady progress” after November 17th when hospitalizations peaked. The COVID patient count has declined every day but one since then.

December 4, 2020 - 12:37 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — With clear skies and highs in the 40s forecast for much of the state this weekend, it’s expected to be an extremely busy opening weekend for shotgun deer season.

Tyler Harms, a biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the fields and forests will be full of hunters.

(As above) “It’s our most popular deer hunting season of the year,” Harms says. “We expect to see about 120,000 hunters in the field hunting deer in the next few weekends. The weather forecast for this weekend looks really great.” 

Harms says those hunters should find a target-rich environment in many parts of Iowa.

(As above) “So far this year, our harvest is trending right along about where we were at this time last year,” Harms says. “That’s a good sign. That indicates to us the population is fairly similar to where it was last year and things are looking good for this weekend.”

Harms says there are a few key changes in deer hunting regulations this year, like allowing for antlerless deer hunting in seven north-central Iowa counties.

(As above) “That is something that we have not allowed in previous years, mostly to allow the population to recover to goal levels,” he says, “but our data suggests the population is increasing so we’re allowing antlerless harvest in those counties.”

Harms reminds all hunters to review their safety training.

(As above) “Have a plan and hunt your plan, make sure you’re wearing plenty of blaze orange,” Harms says. “Also, be mindful of your shot. Make sure you know what your target is and what’s beyond your target.” 

Hours for shotgun deer season are from sunrise and sunset. The first shotgun deer season runs from December 5th to the 9th, with the second season running December 12th to the 20th.

For more information, visit iowadnr.gov.

Northwest Iowa — Five COVID deaths and eighty-four new COVID cases were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Thursday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

In the last 24 hours, one Lyon County resident, three Sioux County residents, and one O’Brien county resident all lost their lives to the disease. Seventy-one people have died in the four counties since the pandemic started — Sioux County has now had twenty-nine. O’Brien County has had thirty-two. Osceola County has had one death. Lyon County has now had nine since the pandemic started.

O’Brien County was up 18 cases at 1344 cases since the pandemic started. Sioux County was up 47 cases at 3831. Lyon County was up 12 cases at 1071, and Osceola County was up 7 at 546. An average of about one in every 10 northwest Iowans in our area has now tested positive for COVID-19 since March.

Out of the 1071 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 650 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 61%.
Out of the 3831 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 2828 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 74%.
Out of the 1344 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 904 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 67%.
Out of the 546 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 352 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 64%.

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report:

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 2864 , up 52
Cherokee 958 , up 26
Buena Vista 3155 , up 35
Clay 1239 , up 30
Dickinson 1455 , up 33

Statewide Iowa — Pending FDA approval, Governor Kim Reynolds says Iowa will get its first shipment of 26-thousand doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during the week of December 13th. That’ll be the first of multiple shipments this month which should total 172-thousand doses.

(As above) “It’s this initial quantity of vaccines that will be prioritized according to the recommendations of the CDC. In Iowa, we’ll distribute a portion of the allocation to hospitals for their workforce and to our long-term care facilities.”

The Pfizer vaccine is said to have an efficacy rate of 95-percent and it has to be given in two doses, 21 days apart. Iowa Department of Human Services director Kelly Garcia says storage is key.

(As above) “The vaccine requires ultra-cold storage at temperatures of negative-70 degrees Celsius. Once thawed, the vaccine is stable at refrigerator temperatures for five days.

Garcia says the state’s nailed down 39 locations so far for ultra-cold storage. She says by the middle of next year, there should be plenty of vaccine for everyone. The Moderna vaccine, which is also expected to be shipped to Iowa, is said to have an efficacy rate of 94.5%. It also has to be given in two doses, 28 days apart, and can be stored at a more traditional level of negative-20-degrees Celsius and it can be stable for 30 days, once thawed.

Sibley, Iowa — A Sibley-Ocheyedan High School student is in custody after bringing a handgun to school Thursday morning.

Lieutenant Seth Hoffman of the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office says the school was on lockdown for a time Thursday morning after the male student brought a handgun into the school.

Hoffman says the student and the gun are now both in the custody of the Sheriff’s Office and the student is being held at the Osceola County Jail as of late Thursday morning.

Lieutenant Hoffman says it appears the student had no ill intent when bringing the gun to school, although he didn’t reveal whether or not the young man had revealed exactly why he took the gun into school.

Hoffman says the student is being charged with carrying a firearm on school property.

He reported no injuries in the incident.

December 3, 2020 - 2:05 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — If you’re someone who has had COVID-19, your fellow northwest Iowans could use your help. That’s from Dr. Amy Badberg, a physician at Sanford Sheldon Medical Center.

She tells us if you’ve had it, your body has something that new or critically-ill COVID patients could use.

 

(as said:) “The convalescent plasma is plasma that’s been taken from people who have had covid and recovered from it. And so what we are hoping with giving patients that are actively having COVID and are really sick with it… that we’re giving their immune system a boost by other people’s immune system helping them.”

Badberg tells us that plasma is the fluid part of your blood, minus the red and white blood cells. And she says the plasma is where antibodies live, such as the COVID antibodies that can fight off COVID.

(as said:) “When they go to donate this plasma, they actually test to see if they have antibodies in your blood and then they will keep it because they want those antibodies. So from somebody who’s recovered, they want those antibioties is to help somebody who’s fighting it right now to help their immune system help get rid of it.”

She says the patient experience for plasma donation is similar to giving blood, but it’s not something that can be done on the bloodmobile.

(as said:) “You have to travel unfortunately to Sioux City or Sioux Falls. You have to go to a plasma donation site. And what they will do is they will want to prove that you’ve had covid so they’ll want your positive test done and then they will draw blood and they will take some of your plasma and so they put an IV in each of your arms and take your blood out, take the plasma out, and then put the rest of the red blood cells back in. So you won’t really notice any difference but we’re just taking that part of the blood that has those antibodies in it so we can give it to other people. “

According to Dr. Badberg, giving plasma, and thereby your antibodies so that someone else can benefit does not diminish your own immunity.

(as said:) “So your body, once it starts to make antibodies is going to continue to make those antibodies. So by us taking them out with the plasma, you are not more likely to get sicker or more likely to get it sooner again. It’s just purely taking those out and giving them to somebody else that it would help.”

Community Blood Bank Executive Director Ken Ver Steeg says they offer plasma donation in Sioux Falls at their fixed site. He says the equipment is very sensitive and it takes your blood, separates the plasma from the red cells and platelets, then returns the red cells and platelets to you.

According to Ver Steeg, the donation takes about 40 minutes. Using this method of donation, the donor is able to give two to three units of convalescent plasma that will be directly transfused to two to three critically-ill COVID patients.

You can call the Community Blood Bank in Sioux Falls at (877)877-3070 or visit cbblifeblood.org for more information.

You can call Lifeserve Blood Center in Sioux City at (800) 287-4903 or visit lifeservebloodcenter.org for more information.

Northwest Iowa — One death and sixty-nine new COVID cases were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Wednesday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

It was a Sioux County resident who lost their life. Sixty-six people have died in the four counties since the pandemic started — Sioux County has now had twenty-six. O’Brien County has had thirty-one. Osceola County has had one death. Lyon County has had eight since the pandemic started.

O’Brien County was up 17 cases at 1326 cases since the pandemic started. Sioux County was up 45 cases at 3784. Lyon County was up 4 cases at 1059, and Osceola County was up 3 at 539. An average of about one in every 11 northwest Iowans in our area has tested positive for COVID-19 since March.

Out of the 1059 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 634 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 60%.
Out of the 3784 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 2805 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 74%.
Out of the 1326 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 886 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 67%.
Out of the 539 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 345 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 64%.

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report:

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 2812, up 38
Cherokee 932, up 26
Buena Vista 3120, up 30
Clay 1209, up 14
Dickinson 1422, up 16

Northwest Iowa — Voter turnout in the recent election was strong in northwest Iowa. And absentee voting was popular.

According to the Iowa Secretary of State, O’Brien County had 76.49% voter turnout. They say there are 9,415 active and 508 inactive registered voters. The stats tell us that 3,908 people voted on election day, and nearly that many voted early or absentee, with 3,682 choosing that option. There were a total of 7,590 people that voted in the election. Very nearly half of the voters voted absentee — 48.5%.

O’Brien County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Barb Rohwer says 2020 the highest absentee turnout, but she says she can’t say if it was due to COVID or because of the mass mailing of the absentee requests by the Secretary of State. Rohwer says she believes that we will find that the level of absentee participation will stay around this rate if not higher. According to Rohwer, “Once voters experience the convenience of voting this way, they tend to continue.” She says she thinks this may become the new normal.

Sioux County had 83.19% turnout — which is one of the highest turnouts in the state. The figures tell us there are 22,086 active and 943 inactive registered voters. They say 10,735 people voted on election day, and 8,423 people voted early or absentee. There were a total of 19,158 people that voted in the election, or very nearly 44 percent.

Sioux County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Ryan Dokter says Sioux County’s turnout by percentage was just slightly less than in the 2016 general election, when turnout was 83.57%. But he says that is mainly due to the fact that the county has just over 1,000 more registered voters in 2020 than in 2016. Nonetheless, Dokter says it was still a very good turnout and right in line with 2012 and 2016 voter turnout.

He says absentees for 2016 were 5,784 or 31.55% of the total vote. Absentees for 2012 were 5,649 or 32.55% of the total vote. Dokter says 31% to 33% of the total vote is about normal for absentee ballots in Sioux County, so 44 percent is pretty high, but that’s to be expected with the continuing pandemic.

Osceola County had 77.41% turnout. They say there are 4,145 active and 179 inactive registered voters. The stats tell us that 1,872 people voted on election day, with 1,475 people voting early or absentee in Osceola County. There were a total of 3,347 that voted in the election. That means about 44% of Osceola County voters voted early or absentee.

Osceola County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Rochelle Van Tilburg tells us the 2020 turnout was higher than four years ago. She says in 2016 Osceola County had a turnout of 2,375 voted at the polls and 876 absentees. She says she believes the record of absentee voting was broken with this election, “…but of course that was because of COVID.”

Lyon County had 79.69% turnout. The figures tell us that there are 8,318 active and 371 inactive registered voters in the county. They say 3,546 Lyon County citizens voted on election day, with nearly the same number voting early or absentee — with 3,378 choosing that option. There were a total of 6,924 who voted in the election. That means about 48.8% of voters in Lyon County voted early or absentee.

Lyon County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Jen Smit tells us that absentee voting was higher this year, but not overall turnout. In the last Presidential Election in 2016, she says Lyon County had just slightly higher turnout at 79.94%. That year, 2,023 absentee ballots were sent out, with 1,966 ballots received back. Out of the total voter count of 6,431 in 2016, 4,465 people voted at the polls on Election Day. So that’s 69.4% voting at the polls, and 30.6% voting absentee that year.

December 1, 2020 - 11:39 am - Posted in News

Washington, D.C. — Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s been cleared by his doctors to return to work after being in quarantine following a positive COVID test earlier this month.

Grassley, who is 87, says “the disease affects people differently,” and he did not experience any symptoms. He took a COVID test after learning he had been exposed to someone else who tested positive for the virus.

In a written statement, Grassley cited “positive…news” about a COVID vaccine, but said he’ll continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing and he urged Americans to remain vigilant in protecting themselves and others from the virus.

Iowa’s senior senator also said Congress “must do its part and pass long overdue relief legislation to help families, businesses and communities get through this crisis.”

November 30, 2020 - 3:04 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — One new death and forty-eight new COVID cases were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Monday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The death was a resident of O’Brien County again. Sixty-five people have died in the four counties since the pandemic started — Sioux County has had twenty-five. O’Brien County has now had 31. Osceola County has had one death. Lyon County has had eight since the pandemic started.

O’Brien County was up 7 cases at 1297 cases since the pandemic started. Sioux County was up 22 cases at 3718. Lyon County was up 14 cases at 1044, and Osceola County was up 5 at 528. An average of about one in every 11 northwest Iowans in our area has had — or currently has — COVID-19.

Out of the 1044 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 599 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 57%.
Out of the 3718 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 2677 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 72%.
Out of the 1297 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 816 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 63%.
Out of the 528 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 326 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 62%.

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report:

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 2766 , up 16
Cherokee 862 , up 19
Buena Vista 3061 , up 13
Clay 1183 , up 10
Dickinson 1395 , up 11