Northwest Iowa — We’re getting closer and closer to the day when we can all get vaccinated against COVID-19. Read The Full Story…

January 19, 2021 - 2:15 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — One new death and twenty-five new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Tuesday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The new death was a resident of Sioux County. The death toll for the area is now at 152 since the pandemic began. The death totals are 54 in O’Brien County, 57 in Sioux County, 32 in Lyon County, and nine in Osceola County.

There were six new cases in Lyon County on Tuesday, five each in O’Brien and Osceola counties, and nine more in Sioux County. About one in eight northwest Iowans have tested positive for COVID since March 2020.

Out of the 1,389 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 1191 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 86%.
Out of the 4,547 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 4194 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 92%.
Out of the 1,694 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 1520 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 90%.
Out of the 639 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 599 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 94%.

Osceola County currently has 31 active cases, up three from the previous day. There were 120 in O’Brien County, which is down nine. Sioux County has 296 active cases, which is down 24 from the previous day. Lyon County has 166 active cases, which is down five.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 3,503 , up 14
Cherokee 1,350 , up 8
Buena Vista 3,932 , up 12
Clay 1,678 , up 16
Dickinson 1,857 , up 11

January 18, 2021 - 3:57 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The number of patients being treated in Iowa hospitals for COVID has dropped below 500 for the first time since October 19.

COVID cases in Iowa hospitals hit a pandemic high of just over 1500 on November 16th. The state’s coronavirus tracking website shows 483 were hospitalized Sunday night. About one out of five of those patients were in intensive care and 43 percent of those in an ICU were on a ventilator.

State officials have confirmed through a federal reporting system that 4323 Iowans have died of COVID. Nearly 41 percent of those Iowans who’ve died of the coronavirus were nursing home residents.

Northwest Iowa — The Iowa Department of Public Health has been reporting a sizable number of cases up or down in apparent corrections for Lyon County, and today for Cherokee County.

The confusion started about a week ago when Lyon County had fifteen fewer cases than the previous day. A couple of days later, Lyon County had an inordinately higher daily rise than the other counties in the area. Then this weekend, Lyon County again reported 15 fewer cases than the previous day. Now on Monday, the state says Lyon County has 46 more cases than the previous day, while other area counties’ gains were in the single digits. We talked to Lyon County Health Nurse Melissa Stillson, and she tells us that when someone tests positive or negative for COVID, those numbers are reported directly to the Iowa Department of Public Health. She says the county health department has no role in reporting COVID statistics. She says they too wonder what the situation is at the state level. Also today, just outside our area — The state health department reports that there are 39 fewer COVID cases in Cherokee County than the previous day.

The other three counties in our area appear to have normal results. There were three new cases in O’Brien County on Monday and one more in Sioux County. About one in eight northwest Iowans have tested positive for COVID since March 2020.

The death toll for the area remains at 151 since the pandemic began. The death totals are 54 in O’Brien County, 56 in Sioux County, 32 in Lyon County, and nine in Osceola County.

Out of the 1,383 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 1180 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 85%.
Out of the 4,538 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 4162 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 92%.
Out of the 1,689 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 1506 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 89%.
Out of the 634 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 597 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 94%.

Osceola County currently has 28 active cases. There were 129 in O’Brien County. Sioux County has 320 active cases, which is down about twenty from last week. Lyon County has 171 active cases.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 3,489 , up 1
Cherokee 1,342 , down 39
Buena Vista 3,920 , up 2
Clay 1,662 , up 2
Dickinson 1,846 , up 4

January 17, 2021 - 2:53 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Twelve additional cases of  COVID-19 were reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health Sunday in the four-county area; five each in O’Brien and Sioux Counties and two in Lyon County. Osceola County reported no new cases.

There were no additional deaths reported Sunday in the four-county area, so the death toll remains at 56 in Sioux County, 54 in O’Brien County, 32 in Lyon County and 9 in Osceola County, for a four-county total of 151 deaths since the pandemic began.

Of the 1686 O’Brien County residents to test positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, 1507 have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 89%.

634 Osceola County residents have tested positive with 597 having recovered, for a rate of about 94%

Of the 1337 Lyon County residents who tested positive, 1179 have recovered, for a rate of about 88%.

Of the 4537 Sioux County residents who tested positive for COVID-19, 4156 have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 92%.

Numbers from some other counties in the area include:
Plymouth County, was up 2 cases at 3488 cases
Cherokee County was up 1 cases at 1381
Buena Vista County reported 7 additional cases at 3918
Clay County reported an increase of 3 cases to bring their total number to 1660
Dickinson County added 5 new cases, taking their total to 1842

The above numbers cover the 24-hour period from noon Saturday, January 16th to noon Sunday, January 17th.

Statewide Iowa — The pandemic is being particularly difficult on non-profit groups which rely on volunteers to operate, and the American Red Cross is asking Iowans for help in order to help other Iowans in need.

Emily Holley, spokeswoman for the agency’s Nebraska-Iowa region, says people who give freely of their time make the charity’s humanitarian mission possible.

(As above) “One of the things that COVID has affected is that folks are less likely to go to public places and volunteer,” Holley says. “That is harmful to us because we’re an organization where volunteers represent more than 90% of our Red Cross work force.” 

Red Cross offices across Iowa where blood is drawn are always looking for blood donor ambassadors. They do things like welcoming visitors and taking their temperatures before entering agency facilities and blood drives. There is also a high-priority need for transportation specialists to help deliver blood from Red Cross facilities to local hospitals.

(As above) “Another option is disaster response volunteers,” Holley says. “Most of the disasters in the U.S. that the Red Cross responds to — every eight minutes — are home fires. Especially during the wintertime, there are more home fires. We need folks who are willing to respond to those home fires.”

In some cases, disaster response volunteers can connect with families by video or phone to provide emotional support, emergency financial assistance and information to help families begin to recover.

(As above) “We have so many virtual positions available to help folks,” Holley says. “You don’t even have to leave your house. You can sit in a comfy chair and help out folks affected by disasters.”

For Iowans who are still hesitant to get close to others, she says there’s a wide range of other virtual volunteer opportunities. For more information, visit the Red Cross Volunteers website.

January 16, 2021 - 7:37 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation is again offering grants to schools to replace drinking fountains with stations that have touchless water bottle fillers.

Foundation executive director, Suzanne Heckenlaible says there’s a continued need for the modern stations as schools adapt to the pandemic.

(As above) “Working with the schools, what we’ve found is they’ve shut down the water fountains –but left the water bottle stations open. So the opportunity for us to provide this assistance is even more important,” Heckenlaible says.  

They have been working with schools for several years and had restricted the grants to schools that did not have the new water bottle station. She says they are now opening it up to schools that already have one.

(As above) “On average, they cost between $2500 to $3500 to replace with the water bottle filling. But we have some old school across the state…old school buildings, I should say…so those can be significant costs. We have committed, as a foundation, that we will continue to work with those schools.”

The program is called “Rethink Your Drink,” and Heckenlaible says the goal is to get kids to drink water over other less healthy options.

(As above) “Also, it’s an activity…it’s a habit, and so it becomes what you do on a daily basis, to have a bottle of water right by your desk.”

Heckenlaible says they hope once the water-drinking habit is established it will stay with the students all their lives. The foundation is taking grant applications through February 5th. Schools can apply by visiting: deltadentalia.com/foundation/grants.

The program, “Rethink Your Drink” is supported by the Iowa Department of Public Health Bureau of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Iowa Public Health Association, Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Healthiest State Initiative and In-Depth Marketing.

January 16, 2021 - 7:09 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — We’re more than two weeks into 2021 now and the experts say about eight in ten New Year’s resolutions are broken by the second week in February.

One popular vow is to lose weight. Nutritionist Heather Rasmussen says for Iowans who’ve already cheated, that’s perfectly fine but now, get back on course to getting healthy.

(As above) “It should be done all year ‘round but the new year gives people an opportunity to reevaluate what they’re doing both diet-wise and physical activity,” Rasmussen says, “and maybe to change their mindset and create some goals surrounding their health including diet and exercise.”

Just because you didn’t stick with your resolution doesn’t mean the exercise was worthless. She says anytime you form a goal, it allows you a chance to pause, look over your situation and make changes to your lifestyle, even if the change is temporary. Rasmussen says permanently changing dietary habits is extremely difficult, so for those trying to stay on the wagon, a slow-and-steady approach may be ideal.

(As above) “People get overwhelmed and say, ‘Okay, I’m never going to eat pizza again in my entire life,’ and then they just don’t do it because it’s too much,” Rasmussen says. “Thinking about my patients, what are your short-term goals? I know you want to lose 50 pounds but what do you want to do for this month, or this week?” 

If you find yourself slipping on your nutritional mission, it might help to scale back long-term goals in favor of more short-term ones. Good habits, especially ones drastically different from typical lifestyles, are hard to start and even harder to keep. Research shows that on average, it takes about 66 days for a habit to become automatic.

Statewide Iowa —  Local, state and federal law enforcement officials say they are monitoring potential threats in Iowa leading up to inauguration day.

Following the violence at the U.S. Capitol, the FBI has warned of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitols. Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens.

(As above) “Currently we are not seeing any concrete threats that would cause us any grave concerns,” Bayens says. “However, we always prepare for the worst and expect the best.”

Bayens says more officers are patrolling the statehouse as a precaution.

(As above) “We’ve increased both our uniform and non-uniform presence up at the capitol,” he says. “Additionally, the Iowa Department of Public Safety has a division of intelligence and so we have a fleet of analysts that are constantly examining social media, are working with federal and local partners.” 

The FBI’s Omaha field office is asking those with information about potential violence at upcoming protests or events to call 402-493-8688.

January 16, 2021 - 3:08 pm - Posted in News

Northwest, Iowa — Five additional COVID-related deaths in the four-county area were included in Saturday’s report from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

All five reported deaths were residents of Sioux County, raising that county’s COVID death toll to fifty-six since the pandemic began. COVID mortality numbers from the other area counties include: fifty-four in O’Brien County; thirty two in Lyon County; and nine in Osceola County, for a four-county total of 151 since the pandemic began.

Eight additional positive COVID test results were reported Saturday; five in O’Brien County and three in Lyon County. The Iowa Department of Public Health reported thirty-seven fewer total COVID cases in Lyon County Saturday than twenty-four hours earlier, but provided no explanation for the reduction in case numbers.

Of the 1681 O’Brien County residents to test positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, 1504 have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 89%.

634 Osceola County residents have tested positive with 596 having recovered, for a rate of about 94%

Of the 1335 Lyon County residents who tested positive, 1178 have recovered, for a rate of about 88%.

Of the 4532 Sioux County residents who tested positive for COVID-19, 4153 have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 92%.

Numbers from some other counties in the area include:
Plymouth County, which held steady at 3486 cases
Cherokee County was up 49 cases at 1380
Buena Vista County reported 9 additional cases at 3911
Clay County reported an increase of 3 cases to bring their total number to 1657
Dickinson County added 4 new cases, taking their total to 1837

The above numbers cover the 24-hour period from noon Friday, January 15th to noon Saturday, January 16th.