Northwest Iowa — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds will be in our area this Friday, October 2nd.

According to the governor’s office, Reynolds will start the day in Sioux City at Frank LaMere’s Hope Street House. Next, she’ll visit the TestIowa Clinic in Le Mars, where people can get tested for COVID-19.

The governor and her entourage are then scheduled to enter our area, with an 11 a.m. stop at the Rehder Family Farm near Sutherland. The farm is at 4343 Warbler Avenue.

After that, she’ll head for Sibley for a 2 p.m. visit at 1015 Steak Company at 1015 Second Avenue in Sibley.

After that, it’s a visit to the Mogler Family Farm near Alvord. It’s located at 1695 Dove Avenue. That appearance will be at 3:30 p.m., and according to her schedule, will be her last appearance for the day.

October 1, 2020 - 9:58 am - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa’s Attorney General is joining an effort to target abusive and illegal debt collectors.

Attorney General spokesperson, Lynn Hicks says it has become a nationwide problem.

(as said)”We are calling this Operation Corrupt Collector and our office is working with other AG’s and the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies,” Hicks says. “Part of it is the enforcement — but a lot of what we are doing here is just educating people what their rights are.”

He says the pandemic has created a lot of stress for people and some debt collectors are trying to take advantage of that.

(as said)”So we want to make sure people understand that if they do get calls for debt — maybe a debt they already paid or don’t think that’s theirs — or if they are getting threatening and harassing calls, that they are armed with the information that they need.” Hick says.

He says the people on the calls may not have the legal authority to collect the debt, but sound like they do.

(as said)”Sometimes they seem to have enough information, a little bit of information to fool people into thinking this might be real,” Hicks says. “One of the things we say is to make sure you get the name of the collector and the collection company and all that information. And don’t give out personal information out over the phone,” according to Hicks.

Hicks says a common tactic is to try and scare people with threats of legal action if you don’t pay right away.

(as said)”If somebody tries to threaten you like that — especially if they try to threaten to arrest you or suspend your driver’s license — things like that — you can just hang up. And you can also report them, report them to us or report them to the FTC,” he says.

You can call the FTC at: 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Or contact the Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 515-281-5926 (in Des Moines area) or 888-777-4590.

Statewide Iowa — China is working to rebuild its grain stockpiles after the pandemic and Iowa farmers will be helping to fill the order.

Dermot Hayes, an ag economics professor at Iowa State University says China’s demand for corn is surging well beyond the norm.

(As above) “They had been running at a deficit for several years by consuming way more corn than they produced and they did that by getting into their stocks,” Hayes says. “Then COVID has convinced them to rebuild those stocks rather than to deplete them and so that has created a scarcity there and an opportunity for us.”

China is willing to buy huge quantities of American commodities, Hayes says, because Iowa corn is cheap compared to grain produced in China.

(As above) “It’s good news for corn and soybean producers,” Hayes says. “Their domestic prices are about $8.50 and ours are probably closer to $3 in central Iowa, so there’s a big incentive for them to buy our corn rather than their own.”

China has a storage quota of seven-point-two million tons of corn, but Hayes predicts they’ll go far beyond that figure. While the August 10th derecho heavily damaged millions of acres of Iowa fields, it won’t prevent Iowa producers from making a big sale in China, since other nations are cutting back their purchases.

(As above) “We were going to have big carry-out stocks with or without the derecho, so where China’s going to get that corn is from product that we would’ve otherwise stored into next year,” Hayes says. “Hogs, corn and beans have been on a tear and it’s all China-related. So many other markets we’re having difficulty with because the world economy is slowing down. Countries are going to have to go into austerity because of the money they’re spending right now.”

The most recent data says China will now import 21-billion dollars in agricultural products from the U-S in the first year of the Phase One deal, an increase of almost three-billion from the first prediction in May.

September 30, 2020 - 3:48 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — With just over thirty days until the election and Tuesday night’s presidential debate fresh on our minds, we’re being warned to be on the lookout for scammers pretending to be pollsters, campaign volunteers, fundraisers — and even candidates.

Bao Vang, at the Better Business Bureau, says the crooks can be convincing.

(As above) “If you have been a victim, it’s so unfortunate,” Vang says, “Please let us know if you suspect this is happening in your community, head to our website, it’s bbb.org/scamtracker.”

The site allows users to zoom in on the state of Iowa and various towns, showing where scams are being reported and what types. Nationwide, there are reports of 215-thousand scams, with dozens of them in Iowa.

(As above) “With all of our eyes and ears tuned into the 2020 presidential election, there is no doubt scammers are, too,” she says. “They’re opportunists and they follow the headlines so they’re using fake political fundraising calls to trick us into donating to a favorite candidate.”

Vang says common political fraud involves polling calls with fake prize offers, fraudulent fundraising calls and people impersonating candidates asking for contributions. She recommends donating directly to a campaign’s office — and never give your credit card or personal information out over the phone.

Again that website is bbb.org/scamtracker.

September 30, 2020 - 3:46 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Almost a record number of new cases of COVID-19 were reported in far northwest Iowa again on Wednesday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. The four-county area was up 106 cases. The record one-day total is 117, set five days ago.

Sixteen northwest Iowans have now died in connection with COVID-19 since the pandemic started — nine in O’Brien County, four in Lyon County, and three in Sioux County.

Sioux County reports a total of 1750 cases since the pandemic started, after a rise of 63 cases in the last 24 hours. O’Brien County is at 411, which is up 13 cases. Lyon County was up 21 cases at 387, and Osceola County was up 9 at 180.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has 200, Sioux County has 807, O’Brien County has 185, and Osceola has 78.

Out of the 387 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 183 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 47%.
Out of the 1750 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 940 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 54%.
Out of the 411 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 217 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 53%.
Out of the 180 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 102 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 57%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 1188, up 13
Cherokee 260, up 5
Buena Vista 2005, up 4
Clay 345, up 10
Dickinson 543, up 13

Figures reported reflect the 24-hour period from noon Tuesday, September 29th to noon Wednesday, September 30th.

September 30, 2020 - 3:33 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Shoppers looking for their favorite cuts of meat should soon see plenty of them. Beef and pork production are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels after disruptions this spring when outbreaks of COVID-19 sent workers home and meat plants cut production.

Farmers and feedlots had to leave animals on site longer than expected, but livestock economist Derrell Peel says now very few beef cattle remain backed-up.

(As above) “It’s taken the rest of the summer and here into the fall to sort of catch up,” Peel says. “I think we are largely caught up at this point, the indications are that we have largely addressed the backlog.”

Most backlogged pigs have also made it to market. Despite estimates claiming millions of market-weight hogs might be euthanized and not reach the food supply, the actual numbers were much lower. Farmer Mike Paustian of Walcott, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, didn’t lose any of his hogs.

(As above) “There were some big numbers getting thrown around about what potentially, how many pigs might have to be euthanized,” Paustian says, “and when it was all said and done, that ended up being far, far fewer pigs than what a lot of people were expecting.”

Paustian says he bought extra barns so he could house big pigs longer. He and others also changed the animals’ diets so they could eat without gaining weight. About 65-thousand market-weight pigs were killed on farms in Iowa. Reports say two-thirds of those belonged to one company.

Statewide Iowa — Terry Branstad returns to Iowa on October 5th after resigning as U.S. Ambassador to China.

Branstad’s oldest son, Eric — a senior advisor for President Trump’s Iowa campaign — says the former Iowa governor will immediately hit the campaign trail.

(as said) “He wants to be everywhere doing everything to support certainly our local legislative candidates, our congressional candidates, Senator Ernst and certainly the president,” Eric Branstad said.

Eric Branstad says his father will campaign in other states as well.

(as said) “We’ll have him scheduled fully for 28 days and there’s only one level of work that he does and that’s turbo,” Eric Branstad says, “and he’s ready to put in that turbo kind of effort.”

The former governor is 73 years old. He’ll turn 74 after the election, on November 17th. He was Iowa’s youngest governor ever when first elected in 1982. He was elected to a sixth term as governor in 2014 and was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to China in 2017.

September 30, 2020 - 10:11 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he doesn’t entirely trust the New York Times report that’s highly critical of President Trump’s finances.

Among other things, the report says the president only paid $750 in federal income taxes during 2016 and 2017. Grassley says he’s waiting for more solid data on the allegations, especially this close to Election Day.

(As above) “It does seem like this $750 is a small amount, in fact, it’s a ridiculously small amount, but I don’t have the facts,” Grassley says. “We don’t even know whether those facts are true.”

The report says Trump paid no income tax at all in 11 of the 18 years the paper reviewed, while the president calls the report “totally fake news.” Grassley, a Republican, is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which writes tax law, so while he’s following the story closely, he’s wary about the source.

(As above) “You’ve gotta’ believe the New York Times, but when so many things they put out about Trump that’s wrong or misleading, you wonder,” Grassley says. “For sure, somebody violated Section 6103 of the Tax Code by violating the privacy of income tax.”

Grassley questions why the Internal Revenue Service is taking so long to complete its audit of the president, but he adds, no one is above the law — especially when it comes to the IRS.

(As above) “Whether it takes one year or ten years to get to the bottom of this,” Grassley says, “if he owes more than $750, he’s going to pay not only more than the $750, he’s going to pay a lot of interest, he’s going to pay a lot of fines.”

Outside of the EPA, Grassley says a letter from the IRS is the scariest letter a person can get from the federal government.

Statewide Iowa — State officials are making a change to the guidelines for quarantining students and staff in schools who’ve been exposed to someone who’s tested positive for Covid-19.

State medical director Dr. Caitlin Pedati says if the person with Covid AND those who were around them have consistently worn a face mask, only those with symptoms or who’ve tested positive will have to quarantine for two weeks

(As above) “Now the (Centers for Disease Control) does currently still recommend that individuals who’ve been in close contact should quarantine even if they’re wearing face coverings,” she says. “However…we’ve gotten some information from here in Iowa as well as from some of our neighboring states that help us to adjust our current recommendation.” 

Pedati says she reviewed Covid case counts in four school districts in northwest Iowa’s Sioux County. The three districts where face coverings were NOT required had between 30 to 130 percent more Covid cases among students and staff. Pedati says these new STATE guidelines on quarantining do NOT apply to residential facilities, like a nursing home, but are recommendations that may apply to other settings, like a business or child care center.

(As above) “Individuals when the case and the close contact have been wearing a face covering consistently and correctly for the entire time will not need to self-quarantine at home,” Pedati says. “However, we’ll still want them to self-monitor which means wearing your face covering and keeping a close eye on your symptoms.” 

Governor Kim Reynolds says the change is being made after superintendents from across the state expressed frustration about how many students and staff have had to be quarantined.

(As above) “In some situations, they’re having to quarantine a disproportionately high number of students when just a few positive cases have been identified,” Reynolds says.

The governor says these adjustments for Iowa schools are similar to new guidelines for Nebraska and Wyoming schools.

(As above) “A reasonable change that will make a positive difference as schools continue to adapt to this challenging a very fluid situation,” she says.

The state’s medical director also cited a study in Missouri that found none of the 139 customers who were around two hair dressers who had Covid got the virus because all were wearing masks. The Iowa Public Health Association called on state officials to release the evidence backing up this new guidance for when to quarantine. The Iowa State Education Association’s president called the new guidelines cloudy information that’s not based in science.

September 29, 2020 - 3:42 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Forty-two new cases of COVID-19 were reported in far northwest Iowa Tuesday according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Sixteen northwest Iowans have now died in connection with COVID-19 since the pandemic started — nine in O’Brien County, four in Lyon County, and three in Sioux County.

Sioux County reports a total of 1687 cases since the pandemic started, after a rise of 16 cases in the last 24 hours. O’Brien County is at 398, which is up 2 cases. Lyon County was up 21 cases at 366, and Osceola County was up 3 at 171.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has 183, Sioux County has 760, O’Brien County has 178, and Osceola has 69.

Out of the 366 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 183 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 50%.
Out of the 1687 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 924 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 55%.
Out of the 398 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 211 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 53%.
Out of the 171 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 102 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 60%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 1175, up 17
Cherokee 255, up 2
Buena Vista 2001, up 7
Clay 335, up 5
Dickinson 530, up 2

Figures reported reflect the 24-hour period from noon Monday, September 28th to noon Tuesday, September 29th.