July 2, 2020 - 9:57 am - Posted in News

The Tournament Softball pairings were released by the IGHSAU.

The Orabs start their tournament run on July 15th at Open Space Park in Sioux Center against Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley with a 5 pm start time.

Class 1A Pairings

Class 2A Pairings

Class 3A Pairings

Class 4A Pairings

Class 5A Pairings

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — A campaign is now underway to remind new and expecting mothers to use their seatbelts.

Iowa Department of Public Health nurse clinician, Stephanie Trusty, says they developed the campaign after seeing a concerning trend.

(as she says)”We do review all the deaths that occur during pregnancy and for a year after the birth of a baby,” Trusty explains. “And in our last review, 18 percent of maternal deaths were from car crashes.”

71 percent of the women who died in those crashes were not wearing a seatbelt. She says there could be a variety of reasons why pregnant women don’t buckle up.

(as she says)”Some women think that it might be a little bit uncomfortable — although the seatbelt should go beneath their pregnant abdomen like at the hipline just like normal. And I think some people think — well if the airbag deploys — that would harm the unborn child. That is really not true,” according to Trusty.

She says the message for mothers is to buckle up.

(as she says)”The safest thing that you can do to protect yourself and your unborn child is to wear a seatbelt. That’s the best way you can reduce injury and prevent being thrown from the vehicle,” she says.

Trusty says the deaths among mothers with newborns are likely because they got busy and didn’t buckle up.

(as she says)”Maybe the baby is crying — so whoever is driving pulls over — the mom gets into the back seat to attend to the baby and they take off without her being restrained. Unfortunately then if there is a crash or rollover, then she is thrown from the vehicle.”

Trusty says they are partnering with the Department of Transportation, Zero Fatalities, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau and Safe Kids Iowa in a statewide social media campaign

(as she says)”Targeting young women to help more of them understand how important it is to buckle up every time they get into a vehicle, whether they are driving or riding in the car,” Trusty says. “We are also getting a brochure out to health care professionals encouraging them to talk to every pregnant woman about seatbelt safety during pregnancy.”

Trusty says it’s the nature of a mother to think about their kids first — but they can’t forget their own safety.

(as she says)”Sometimes moms put themselves last — and it’s equally important that they are buckled up,” she says.

The program targeted at mothers runs through September 30th. Trust says everyone is reminded to always use seat belts when driving or riding in a vehicle.

Sioux City, Iowa — A man who conspired to distribute methamphetamine in northwest Iowa has been sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison.

According to the US Attorney’s office, 50-year-old Juan Lopez-Zuniga of Denison was convicted by a jury earlier this year after a three-day trial in federal court, of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The verdict was returned following about three hours of jury deliberations.

The US Attorney’s office reports that the evidence at trial showed that Lopez-Zuniga was involved in a conspiracy that distributed more than 500 grams of methamphetamine from October 2015 through September 2016, from the Denison area. Evidence showed that Lopez-Zuniga conducted runs from Denison, right through our area — to Worthington, Minnesota — delivering half-pound quantities of methamphetamine to a co-conspirator for further re-distribution in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. Lopez-Zuniga would then return to Denison with the proceeds of drug sales.

United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand sentenced Lopez-Zuniga to 127 months’ imprisonment. (That’s a little over ten and a half years.) He must also serve a 5-year term of supervised release after his release from prison. There is no parole in the federal system.

July 1, 2020 - 4:15 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The end of June means the end of peak tornado season in our area. Twisters can strike during any month but they’re typically the worst here during May and June. Warning Coordination Meteorologist Peter Rogers at the Sioux Falls office of the National Weather Service, says it’s been a very quiet season for tornadoes in their county warning area, which is roughly from Sioux City north to Brookings South Dakota, and from Chamberlain, South Dakota east to Jackson, Minnesota.

Conditions simply haven’t been conducive for many tornadoes this season. Rogers reminds folks not to get complacent as severe weather, including tornadoes, can develop anytime. We asked him if the calm severe weather season is an indicator of things to come, or if it means that we could still see a lot of severe weather.

According to Rogers, the National Weather Service encourages people to have more than one way of receiving warnings, and not to just rely on your cell phone, as all systems are capable of failure. He says having more than one way to receive warnings also ensures that you can take cover as quickly as possible.

Rogers says warm and humid conditions will persist into the 4th of July weekend.

For more information, check kiwaradio.com/weather or weather.gov/SiouxFalls, or stay tuned to KIWA Radio.

Statewide Iowa — A survey finds Iowa’s economy is slowly recovering from the pandemic, but the state is lagging behind the Midwest overall in clawing back from widespread shut-downs and job losses.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says their survey of business owners across the nine-state region found a Business Conditions Index of 50-point-three, where 50 is considered “growth neutral” on the zero-to-100 scale.

(As above) “It’s a good number,” Goss says. “It makes us feel a little bit better, but it certainly indicates there are many, many, many challenges and we’ll have to see many, many more months of above-growth neutral readings to get back to pre-COVID-19 levels.” 

Iowa’s economy is still below growth neutral at around 47 for June, an improvement from just 42 in May. The Jobs Index for the Midwest is also still in negative territory, he says. Again, using the zero-to-100 scale, that indicator fell to just 39 during June.

(As above) “Even with the numbers at least moving above April’s record low reading, we’re still down about 1.2 million jobs in the region,” Goss says. “In most of the states, we’re hovering around 9% loss of jobs since COVID-19.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, Goss says Iowa has lost 161-thousand jobs, or about 10-percent of its employment. He says the surveys point to a flattening of employment with only slight job gains in Iowa in the months ahead. The Creighton survey found more than half (51%) of businesses surveyed plan to make -no- staffing changes for the rest of 2020.

(As above) “Seventeen percent of the businesses and manufacturers said they would bring back furloughed workers,” Goss says. “Twenty-six percent said they’d bring back furloughed workers -and- make new hires, and six-percent indicated they would continue layoffs, so that’s the bad news.”

Goss says a survey of bankers estimated farmland prices fell by four-percent in the past year and they expect those prices to fall by another three-point-two percent over the coming year. About one-fifth of bank CEOs surveyed expect low farm income and falling farmland prices to present the greatest challenge to banking operations over the next five years.

Statewide Iowa — New state guidelines for reopening Iowa schools this fall say face coverings should be allowed, but not required.

Mike Beranek, president of the Iowa State Education Association — the state teacher’s union, says that doesn’t make sense.

(as said) “With the explosion of cases being identified in various parts of our country, I simply cannot understand why we, as a state, would not recommend PPE for our staff and our students,” he says.

Beranek is urging local school boards and administrators to not only require face coverings but to ensure there’s adequate physical separation of students inside classrooms.

(as said) “When you have a classroom of 28-40 students, that will be incredibly difficult to maintain the safety protocols that are established by the CDC,” he says.

Districts may set their own rules, but state officials say parents must be notified if district standards are stricter than the state guidelines. The Iowa Department of Education recommends against screening students and staff as they arrive at school as people can be sick without having a fever. Beranek, a third-grade teacher in West Des Moines, says these state guidelines are deeply disappointing.

(as said) “I truly believe that there will be districts around our state that will do the right thing,” Beranek says. “As a state that believes in local control, now is the time for our local communities to work together to ensure that not only are students learning and growing, but they’re also safe and healthy.”

Students who are medically fragile or who have specific medical needs will be allowed to stay home. The Department of Education’s guidance encourages schools to teach students not to criticize the choice of wearing or NOT wearing a mask.

Governor Kim Reynolds says school officials who choose to mandate that everyone in a school building must wear face masks must seriously consider how to implement the policy.

(as said) “What type of a face covering will be allowed?” Reynolds asks. “…Who will be responsible for providing the face coverings and take the measures to ensure that they’re sanitary? Who will be responsible for tracking the appropriate use and storage of a face covering?”

Newly posted guidelines from the Iowa Department of Education have a list of considerations about face masks and the governor says schools must define what appropriate use means.

(as said) “What do you do during lunch? Naptime?…The other thing the CDC states is that cloth-based coverings should be washed after every use and it’s important to always remove face coverings correctly and wash your hands after handling,” Reynolds says, “so this is really important and it becomes problematic.”

Reynolds says the state’s epidemiologists help the state’s education department develop its “broad guidance” to schools about how to safely resume classes this fall in the midst of a pandemic. A mandatory face masking policy has what the agency calls “considerable implications”

Iowa school districts were to have submitted “Return to Learn” plans to the state by this Wednesday. The plans must include three components, outlining the option of in-person instruction in a classroom, an online-only option, and a third option that’s a hybrid of meeting inside the school building and taking classes online.

Northwest Iowa — After only two cases of COVID-19 being reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Tuesday, the number of reported cases was significantly higher on Wednesday, with seventeen cases being reported in that 24-hour period according to the latest statistics from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Sioux County was up seven cases at 457. Lyon County was up one at 40. O’Brien County was up four at 85, and Osceola County was up five at 56.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has one, Sioux County has 114, O’Brien County has 27, and Osceola has four.

Recovery rate:

Lyon — out of 40 cases, 38 have recovered, for a rate of about 95%
Sioux — out of 457 cases, 336 have recovered, for a rate of about 74%
O’Brien — out of 85 cases, 54 have recovered, for a rate of about 64%
Osceola — out of 56 cases, 47 have recovered, for a rate of about 84%

Also, one death has been reported in these four counties since the beginning of the pandemic, that in O’Brien county on Tuesday, June 9th.

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report (6/30/2020):

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 305, up 5
Cherokee 73, up 2
Buena Vista 1696, up 1
Clay 125, up 5
Dickinson 249, up 8

Minnesota counties:
Jackson 54, unchanged
Nobles 1655 3
Rock 29, actually down 1

South Dakota counties:
Minnehaha 3627, up 17
Lincoln 347, up 4
Union 124, up 1

Here are some density numbers from regional hot spots. But keep in mind, that these numbers do include people who have had COVID-19, and have since recovered.

Buena Vista County, Iowa has a density of about one case in 12 people. Very close to that density is Nobles County, Minnesota, where there is one case in 13 people. Next in our region is Woodbury County with one case in every 32 people, and then Minnehaha County, South Dakota with one case in 53 people.

In the four northwesternmost Iowa counties, Sioux County tops the density list at one case in 76 people. Osceola is next with one case per 107 people. Next is O’Brien County with one in 162 people, and Lyon County reports a density of one case in every 295 people.

July 1, 2020 - 2:15 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Iowa officials have changed the way recovery from COVID-19 is reported on the state website with coronavirus information — and Governor Kim Reynolds says it means more hours will be spent finding people who may have been near someone who has the virus.

Case inspection first teams try to speak with every Iowan who tests positive and then talk with people the patient may have had contact with. Ten days later there’s a follow-up call to see if the Iowan has recovered from the virus.

(As above) “What’s happening is a lot of the calls go unanswered or unreturned on the follow-up calls,” Reynolds says. “and then they’re not counted on the Iowans recovered.” 

Unless the state gets information that the person with COVID has been hospitalized, has not recovered or has died — Reynolds says the new policy is to count someone contract tracers have NOT been able to reach as recovered 28 days following a positive test.

(As above) “This time frame equates to two incubation periods,” Reynolds says, “and processes…similar to what other states are doing.”

Reynolds says this new policy went in effect Monday and the percentage of Iowans shown on the state website as “recovered” went from around 60 percent to almost 80 percent.

(As above) “We believe that this change more accurately reflects the number of Iowans recovered,” Reynolds says, “and will allow our case investigation team to have more time to assist Iowans who are newly diagnosed.”

Iowans who travel to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are now being asked to quarantine there for 14 days. Officials in those states say it’s because Iowa — and 13 other states — now have weekly averages showing at least 10 percent of people being tested have the virus. Reynolds suggests that’s old data and Iowa’s positivity rate on Tuesday was nine-and-a-half percent of those who’ve been tested.

Des Moines, Iowa — MidAmerican Energy has announced today that they are going to be offering a 50% increased rebate on some  high-efficiency equipment.

MidAmerican is now offering different programs to costumers who have financially suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A spokesperson from Mid American Energy, Tina Hoffman, gave some more information on the nature of the programs.

(As Said): “These are actually not new programs, these are energy efficiency programs that we already are offering, but now are increasing some of the incentives by as much as 50% in some cases.”

This program is to allow Mid American customers to get rebates on some high-efficiency equipment and plans. Such as High-Efficiency air conditioner units at $750 rebate, or a smart thermostat at $115 rebates. Hoffman explains who qualifies and where to view the different programs.

(As Said): “Mid American energy costumers in Iowa and Illinois have the opportunity to take advantage of these programs,” Hoffman says “and then there are several different kinds of programs, both on the residential side as well as for small businesses that they can look at that can help them with their energy efficiency equipment, so the best way to look at what programs might be best for each costumer is to go to mid american energy.com”

For more information, contact the MidAmerican Energy website, by CLICKING HERE.

Statewide, Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds has taken action on all the bills that cleared the 2020 legislative session, and she’s approved changes in how county election officials verify the identity of Iowans asking to vote with an absentee ballot.

Republican lawmakers say they want to prevent absentee ballot abuse. County auditors will have to call, email or write a letter to a voter if an absentee ballot request form has inaccuracies. Election officials say voters often transpose numbers on their birth dates or list a Social Security number rather than their voter I-D number on the form. Under current practice, county election officials are able to check voter registration data and correct errors before sending an absentee ballot. Critics say the new process could prevent some voters from getting an absentee ballot before the November election and this law change may be challenged in court.

The governor’s signature on key bills Tuesday confirms the state budget plan the Republican-led legislature crafted. However, Reynolds rejected a provision that would have limited the amount of state spending set aside for the Iowa Veterans Home that can be carried forward to the next budgeting year. She also vetoed a bill. It would have required any Iowa government to sell property to the highest responsible bidder unless a supermajority of a city council, county board of supervisors or the legislature had good cause to decide otherwise. Reynolds says she understands there may disputes over property sales, but she says there can be reasonable factors that lead government officials to sell a property to someone other than the highest bidder.