September 29, 2020 - 2:21 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — October is almost on us, and the dawn of October, 2020 is forecast to bring some changes to our area temperatures.

Matthew Dux is Lead Forecaster at the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls and he says widespread frost is forecast for northwest Iowa later this week.

(As above) “We’re looking at, right now, a very cool and dry airmass moving into the area, so by the time Thursday night and Friday morning rolls around we should see clear skies and temperatures dropping (to) anywhere in the 31 to 36 degree range across much of northwest Iowa. Why we call it frost..the definition of frost would be basically when temperatures start to fall below the 36 to 38-degree temperature threshold.”

He says this frost could cause some damage to vegetation.

(As above) “Your more sensitive vegetation, especially once you drop below 36-degrees, will be much more sensitive to the temperatures. And you’ll probably see some damage there.”

Dux says forecasters use different terms such as frost, freeze and hard freeze to describe fall temperature conditions. He explains the difference.

(As above) “We have a couple of different tiers when it comes to forecasting fall temperatures and the concerns with them. Frost typically begins into the mid-30s. We start to see a Freeze, which means that temperatures drop to about 32-degrees, and this means that you could have some more significant damage but your plants may still survive afterward.  And then we have what’s called a Hard Freeze, which is when we get to the 28 or 27-degree temperature time frame. And when this happens, typically any plant that’s exposed to temperatures in the middle to upper-20s, even if it’s only an hour, won’t survive after that exposure.”

So even though there is no Freeze or Hard Freeze expected from Thursday night into Friday morning this week, Dux says you may still want to cover your outdoor plants.

 

September 29, 2020 - 2:08 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Iowa farmers had nearly seven days suitable for fieldwork last week and made the most of it.

The latest USDA crop report says 12 percent of the corn has been harvested — up from four percent — and almost three weeks ahead of last year and nine days ahead of average. The soybean harvest was at 30 percent complete — up from seven percent last week. The bean harvest is 19 days ahead of last year and 12 days ahead of average.

It is the largest percentage of soybeans and corn harvested by this time since 2012 when 48 percent of the corn and 41 percent of soybeans had been harvested. Farmers in the northwest and west-central Iowa continue to lead the way with almost half of their soybean acreage harvested, and 19 percent of corn.

The lack of rain has meant farmers could get a lot of the crop harvested. Moisture remains low here though. Northwest Iowa topsoil moisture according to the report rates 25 percent very short, 51 percent short, 24 percent adequate, and zero percent surplus. That means 76 percent of the topsoil in northwest Iowa is in need of a good rain. But since farmers are in the midst of harvest, perhaps it could wait a little while now.

The northwest Iowa subsoil moisture figures tell a similar story, with 31 percent very short, 50 percent short, and only 19 percent adequate, with no sites reporting surplus moisture.

September 29, 2020 - 2:01 pm - Posted in News

Washington, D.C. — Daylight Saving Time is scheduled to end this year at 2:00 am on Sunday, November 1st. But a bill in the U.S. Senate would change all that.

SB 4582 is a proposed law that would keep Daylight Saving Time in effect until at least late next year, and possibly forever. While most Senators reportedly don’t have this issue on their radar at this point, if passed, the bill would make the already late sunrise times even later during the cold winter months.

The bill has some support from folks in states whose economies depend heavily on the hospitality industries, since it would allow more time in the evening for dining and entertainment in the daylight.

But in regions of the country, such as here in northwest Iowa, where the economy is largely dependent upon agriculture, the measure is opposed by a lot of folks. For our farmers, who are normally up and working with the sun, it would require their first hour of work to be in the dark, or would postpone their workday an hour each day. Children would be forced to walk or ride their bicycles to school in the dark, adding to the danger for kids and motorists alike. And for those who listen to AM radio stations, like KIWA-AM, that are required to broadcast on extremely low power between sunset and sunrise, you might be forced to miss out on an hour of morning programming that you’ve come to depend on.

This bill is not going through the normal committee process in the Senate, but is being considered for inclusion with a handful of other bills for Unanimous Consent.

So get ready to turn your clocks back an hour before bed on Saturday night, October 31st. Or not, depending on what happens with this proposed piece of legislation.

We just thought you should know.

September 29, 2020 - 12:25 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — State health officials are making a change to the guidelines for quarantining people who’ve been exposed to others who’ve tested positive for COVID-19.

State Medical Director Dr. Caitlin Pedati explains.

(As above) “For non-healthcare, non-residential settings, individuals who, when the case and close contact have been wearing a face covering consistently and correctly for the entire time, will not need to self-quarantine at home.”

However, the new guidelines state that when an unmasked individual tests positive and close contacts were wearing masks, the close contacts need to quarantine for fourteen days.

If the individual who tests positive and only some of their close contacts were wearing masks, the masked close contacts should self-monitor for COVID symptoms over the subsequent fourteen days, staying home if symptoms develop and speak with a healthcare provider about testing in the case of illness. Those who are self-monitoring and become ill but do NOT get tested, should remain home until ten days after their symptoms begin. The unmasked close contacts would need to quarantine for fourteen days.

If an unmasked individual tests positive and close contacts were NOT wearing masks those contacts will need to quarantine for fourteen days.

In all the above scenarios, individuals are considered a close contact when they have been within six feet of the COVID-19 positive individual for fifteen minutes. Individuals who are a close contact due to exposure to a household member are required to quarantine for at least fourteen days. The IDPH says quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Individuals who have the virus must isolate for at least ten days. According to the IDPH, isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home.

The Iowa Department of Public Health says these new guidelines apply to businesses, education and child care settings.

Governor Kim Reynolds says the previous policy led to large numbers of students being quarantined, for example, when just a few positive cases were identified.

For more information from the Iowa Department of Public Health on when to quarantine, CLICK HERE.

 

Statewide Iowa — With the use of e-cigarettes in Iowa high schools considered at epidemic levels, the American Lung Association is launching a new effort designed to reduce vaping by teens — and even younger.

Alyssa DePhillips, health promotions manager for the Lung Association in Iowa, says protecting lung health is vital.

(As above) “We’re excited about this public awareness campaign called ‘Get Your Head Out of the Cloud!'” DePhillips says. “It’s really designed to give parents the facts about e-cigarettes and support conversations before the kids are starting to vape, or before they’re offered vapes from their friends.”

The campaign is focused on kids between the ages of 10 and 14.

(As above) “We think that’s pretty young, parents might think that’s pretty young, but I think parents would be surprised that youth are being offered these devices at younger ages,” DePhillips says. “Sometimes parents don’t really know what to look for with these devices or they don’t know what signs to look for if a youth is using.”

The Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2019 found that 20-percent of Iowa high school students used e-cigarettes. The goal is to reduce youth vaping levels 10-percent by 2025. While many Iowa students attended classes virtually earlier this year — and many are still learning online — DePhillips says the coronavirus pandemic is bringing a mixed bag of news about the popularity of vaping.

(As above) “Less youths may be experimentally trying the products but the youth that are addicted are still very much addicted to these products,” she says, “and they may be using them more frequently because they have more free time and more time on their hands.”

The campaign includes free educational resources and guides, conversation starters and facts about e-cigarettes at TalkAboutVaping.org.

September 29, 2020 - 9:50 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Both Republican and Democratic leaders in Iowa say voters on both sides of the political spectrum are motivated by President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the vacancy U.S. Supreme Court.

Iowa Democratic Party chairman Mark Smith.

(as said) “I think this is a significant issue,” Smith says. “The indications are that most Americans feel that this is a vote that should wait until after the election.”

Smith says a quarter of a million Iowans could lose insurance coverage if Barrett joins other conservatives on the court and rules the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. Eric Branstad, a senior advisor to President Trump’s Iowa reelection effort, emphasizes that Barrett is a working mom with a big family.

(as said) “I think is going to be a huge boost for the suburb moms across the state that work so hard,” Branstad says, “and they’ll see their voice heard through what would be Justice Barrett.”

Both of Iowa’s Republican U.S. Senators are members of the senate committee that will open hearings on Barrett’s nomination in two weeks.

Sibley, Iowa — If you are in charge of a nonprofit organization serving Osceola County, this is a notice for you.

The Community Foundation of Osceola County has announced that they will begin accepting applications for their 2020/2021 grant cycle on October first.

They tell us that grants may be awarded in the areas of arts & culture, community affairs & development, education, environmental education & protection, health, historical preservation, human services, and youth programs.

Foundation officials tell us completed applications must be received by 4 p.m. on November 6th to be considered for funding. The application materials will be available at the Osceola County Economic Development Commission office (300 7th Street, Sibley) and online at https://osceolacountyia.org/living-here/community-foundation-of-osceola-county on October 1st.

The foundation tells us that application limits are set at $5,000 per application per applicant. Applicants are reminded that seven copies of the grant application must be received by the Community Foundation of Osceola County, 300 7th Street, Sibley, Iowa 51249 by 4 p.m. on Friday, November 6, 2020. E-mailed or hand-written applications will not be accepted. Grants will be awarded in January or February 2021.

Eligible applicants must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; a governmental body (school, city, county) or a charitable project with a qualified fiscal sponsor. For more specific questions on eligibility please contact the Osceola County Economic Development Commission at (712) 754-2523.

Foundation officials tell us the Community Foundation of Osceola County, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, was created by and for the people of Osceola County. The Community Foundation’s main goals are to support charitable projects and programs in Osceola County and to attract additional funds to assist donors in creating lasting legacies through a variety of giving options within Osceola County.

Statewide Iowa — A judge has refused to temporarily suspend the new state law that dictates how county auditors address mistakes or missing information on absentee ballot request forms.

The law Republicans passed this spring says county auditors may no longer use voter registration records to fill in missing information or correct mistakes on the forms used to request an absentee ballot. County election officials must contact the voter by phone or send them a letter to get the correct information.

The League of United Latino Citizens and a group affiliated with Senate Democrats had sued, arguing the new law means incomplete absentee ballot request forms won’t be processed in time. County auditors say many voters do not know their ID number and leave that line on the form blank, but properly supply their address and other identifying information.

Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate says the new law ensures there’s proper identification of voters who cast an absentee ballot, just as voter ID is required for Election Day voting.

September 28, 2020 - 3:47 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Iowa’s two Republican U.S. Senators are praising the president’s choice of Amy Coney Barrett for the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Senator Chuck Grassley says Barrett is eminently qualified and Grassley says she doesn’t deserve to be subjected to the kind of “shenanigans” that happened after President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the court in 2018. Senator Joni Ernst says Barrett is an experienced jurist and a working mom of seven who joins a growing, but still too small list of women nominated to be judges in the federal court system. Both Grassley and Ernst are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The panel’s scheduled to start hearings on Barrett’s nomination on October 12th.

Doug Emhoff, the husband of Democrat vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, suggested during a weekend appearance in Iowa that Senator Harris would have much to say about Barrett during Senate debate.

(As above) “She’ll be squarely in the fight to stop McConnell from jamming through a justice who will try to overturn the Affordable Care Act, just when we need it most,” he said. 

Emhoff spoke at “drive in” campaign rally in Cedar Rapids on Saturday. Jill Biden, the wife of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, spoke at the rally, too, pledging that her husband would preserve the Affordable Care Act if elected.

(As above) “He has spent his entire career listening, standing up to bullies and bringing people together,” Biden said.

Polls suggest Iowa’s six electoral college votes are up for grabs. Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, campaigned in Iowa last week and Vice President Mike Pence will campaign here this Thursday, October 1st.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

September 28, 2020 - 2:27 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Eighty new cases of COVID-19 were reported in far northwest Iowa Monday 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 1671 cases since the pandemic started, after a rise of 39 cases in the last 24 hours. O’Brien County is at 396, which is up 15 cases. Lyon County was up 19 cases at 345, and Osceola County was up 7 at 168. The DPH does note that this weekend, a data update occurred to add nearly 27,000 antigen test results from newly required surveillance testing at long-term care facilities. This update has resulted in an increase in the number of individual test results and the number of antigen tests currently reported.

A little arithmetic with the current figures tells us that one person in about every 35 people in O’Brien, Lyon, and Osceola counties has had COVID. But that jumps to one person in 21 people in Sioux County — and about one in 10 people in Buena Vista County.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has 161, Sioux County has 766, O’Brien County has 184, and Osceola has 66.

Out of the 345 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 180 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 52%.
Out of the 1671 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 902 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 54%.
Out of the 396 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 203 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 51%.
Out of the 168 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 102 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 61%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 1158, up 6
Cherokee 253, up 4
Buena Vista 1994, up 4
Clay 330, up 3
Dickinson 528, unchanged.

Figures reported reflect the 24-hour period from noon Sunday, September 27th to noon Monday, September 28th.