Statewide Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds says surgical abortions are included in her temporary ban on elective and non-essential surgeries to preserve medical supplies in the midst of a pandemic.

(As above) “Making sure that we have the personal protective equipment to care of those Iowans who are on the front lines serving Iowans and those in need,” Reynolds said Sunday, “…to make sure that we have our health care providers and our first responders healthy so they can take care of Iowans.”

The governor’s proclamation put a halt to all scheduled elective and non-essential surgeries in Iowa until April 16th.

(As above) “Everyone is making is making sacrifices,” Reynolds says. “Everyone.” 

Planned Parenthood officials say they are assessing the governor’s action. The organization is suing Texas over a similar order that bans medication abortions as well as surgical abortions. Current IOWA law bans abortions after 20 weeks in a pregnancy, unless the procedure is necessary to save the life of the mother.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Iowa’s governor grew emotional Friday when addressing claims that the threat of COVID-19 is being overblown. Governor Kim Reynolds says she’s well aware of those claims.

(As above) “Iowans are scared and they’re nervous and I appreciate that, but we’re going to get through it and if you keep doing what we ask you to do, we will be back to those good days,” Reynolds said, “so hang in there.”

Reynolds was asked Friday afternoon during her daily news conference about critics who say business closures are an over-reaction. Reynolds says she has had to make some hard decisions in the midst of a pandemic.

(As above) “The last thing that I want to do is impact families and individuals and our businesses that are the backbone of our economy,” Reynolds said, “so as the governor of this state I can assure you that the last thing that I want to issue is an order that shuts down a business.”

Reynolds says these orders are a necessity.

(As above) “I have to do what I can to protect the well-being of Iowans and especially our most vulnerable Iowans and that’s again the reason that I’m trying to get very consistent in what I’m doing and basing those decisions on data,” Reynolds says. “And hopefully, by doing that, I can get businesses stood back up and we can get this economy going again.”

Reynolds says she’s hoping the FEDERAL stimulus package that just passed congress, and was signed by President Trump, Friday afternoon will help many Iowans get through these really tough times. Most every American will get a 12-hundred dollar check and unemployment benefits will be expanded.

March 26, 2020 - 3:16 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — State officials Thursday morning revealed nearly 41-thousand Iowans filed unemployment claims last week. Beth Townsend, the director of the Iowa Workforce Development agency warned last week that the number of claims has been “staggering.”

(As above) “We are doing our very best to ensure most people will receive payment within 7-10 days of their initial claim,” Townsend says.

More than 160 Iowa Workforce Development employees who worked on other programs have been retrained and are answering the phones to take claims.

(As above) “We are going to get through this and I know that to be true from watching these inspiring state employees who are constantly asking: ‘What else can I do to help?'” Townsend says.

Last Friday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds acknowledged the unemploymenet numbers are grim.

(As above) “They are significant and everybody knows that,” Reynolds says. “I so appreciate the measures we put in place to not only help Iowans who have been laid off, but also our employers.”

If an Iowan applies for unemployment and indicates they were laid off due to COVID-19, Reynolds says their employer will not be charged. Earlier THIS week, Reynolds announced small businesses with 25 or fewer employees that have been affected by COVID-19 closures may apply for state grants of up to 25-thousand dollars. From Sunday through Saturday of last week, more than 13-thousand Iowans who work in restaurants, bars and hotels filed for unemployment benefits. Nearly five-thousand who work in health care and social assistance programs filed unemployment claims and about 27-hundred who work in education filed for unemployment.

March 26, 2020 - 1:04 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — The report of a stolen car in Sibley Wednesday night led to the arrest of two juveniles early Thursday in Sheldon.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, they received a report of a car stolen from Sibley, and issued a “Be On The Lookout” request to law enforcement agencies in surrounding counties, including a description of the vehicle and it’s license plate number.

Sometime later, Osceola County authorities tell KIWA a sharp-eyed Sheldon police officer spotted the vehicle near the Sheldon Christian School, and the occupants reportedly fled on foot. Multiple Sheldon officers, along with an O’Brien County Sheriff’s Deputy, located the pair and placed them under arrest.

Osceola County authorities say the two were juveniles, and declined to release further information, citing the age of the suspects.

March 25, 2020 - 3:38 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Many fire departments and ambulance squads in northwest Iowa are going to participate in a show of solidarity tonight.

Sibley Fire Chief Ken Huls tells us more.

(as said:) “They’ll be opening their doors at seven o’clock this evening for approximately five minutes and we’re going to be operating all of our red and blue lights just as a show of solidarity — letting our communities and the state know that Fire Department, EMS and police are still doing our jobs, and we’re in solidarity to let the communities know that we are still here for them. We’re doing our job. We’re not going to let this COVID-19 pandemic get to us and we’re going to be here for our people and help as much as we can. ”

He tells us that the idea is to show your support.

(as said:) “If you have anything red, white, and blue as in ribbons, I am on your railings up front of your house or around your trees or whatever you wish to show your support for all responders in Northwest, Iowa.”

According to Huls, they’d like to give people a chance to get out and about, while respecting social distancing rules, and show your support for your emergency responders.

(as said:) “And if people do wish to go view this I recommend they do it in their vehicles or they stand giving their — six-foot barrier rules apply. Come out and take some photos and do your appreciation in front of your departments if you want to get out of your house.”

The Facebook post that’s been going around says, “A sign of strength and hope for all. Hope for all who work daily in EMS, Fire, and Law Enforcement to be ready, strength for those working around the clock to provide care, encouragement to those who strive to find the right medicine to help, patience for those in the food/grocery industry to feed us, and will power to those trucking daily to keep us going.”

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The U-S Census Bureau says Iowa is one of the very best states so far in terms of its response rate to this year’s big count.

Iowa’s response rate ranks number-two in the country, just a fraction behind Wisconsin and just ahead of Minnesota. The bureau says about 26-percent of Iowans have filled out their census forms, either online, by mail or phone, with 23-percent of Iowans responding online. The national average is 21-percent, five points behind Iowa. The states at the bottom of the list are Montana, West Virginia and Alaska, where only 11-percent have responded. The mailers started going out March 12th. Beginning in May, census takers will start knocking on doors of homes from which there’s been no response.

For more information, visit https://2020census.gov/en/response-rates.html

March 25, 2020 - 11:45 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Certain types of businesses, as well as swimming pools and spas have been closed here in Iowa in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Iowa hospitals are postponing elective surgeries, and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is asking Iowans to VOLUNTARILY shelter in place.

(As above) “If you do not need to leave your house to help your family or other Iowans respond to this disaster, stay home,” Reynolds said. 

The governor of Illinois issued a “shelter in place” ORDER this weekend, and other states are taking similar steps. But Reynolds says the data about the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa doesn’t indicate that step is necessary.

(As above) “Just overall traffic has seen a 47 percent drop from a year ago, but truck traffic is normal,” Reynolds says. “…People that are providing the essential services are out still there, but Iowans are starting to hear the message and they are staying home.”

Reynolds announced Tuesday that 145 Iowans in 26 counties have tested positive for COVID-19 and seven have been hospitalized. State officials say those numbers are expected to increase as more testing is done. President Trump cited Iowa’s current data during a Monday evening news conference as he talked about reopening areas of the country and the economy as quickly as possible. Reynolds is asking Iowans to practice social distancing and go solo when they run essential errands at the grocery store or pharmacy.

(As above) “We are not at a place where we’re going to order a shelter-in-place or a stay-at-home,” Reyolds says. “…We want to make sure that we’re making these decisions based on data and based on metrics so that we can be consistent in what we’re telling Iowans to make sure that we’re not shutting down a state where we don’t need to.”

Governor Reynolds posted a video online earlier this week, with this message: “stay home and help us save a life.”

Rock Valley, Iowa — A licensed mental health counselor from Rock Valley has some suggestions for Iowans who’re experiencing anxiety in the midst of a global pandemic. Shawn Scholten works at the Creative Living Center in Rock Valley.

(As above) “It’s important to separate what is in your control from what is not,” she says. “Focus on those factors that you can control like social distancing, appropriate handwashing and sneezing and coughing, take vitamins, stay hydrated, good nutrition.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, OCCASIONAL anxiety is an expected part of normal life, but for a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time.

(As above) “Anxiety is rooted in the future and anxiety then tends to make us more fear- and anxiety-based and we become very self-focused,” Scholten says, “whereas it’s really a time to be other-focused, to reach out to others and staying community-minded — being more interconnected, but in a safe way.”

Area residents have been seeing empty store shelves, with shortages of hand sanitizer and toilet paper well documented. Scholten urges you to respond rather than react.

(As above) “I think some of the hoarding is very much a reaction,” Scholten says. “Just take a step and be reasonable, take some deep breaths and respond appropriately.”

Her advice is to acknowledge your emotions and, for example, get creative with modern technology, using smart phones and laptops to videochat with others.

(As above) “You know a lot of people today are feeling a lot of similar emotions, some to different degrees than others, and it just validates your feelings when you hear them from somebody else. It affirms: ‘Oh, yes. They’re feeling that way, too,'” Scholten says. “So that, in itself, reduces some of that sense of isolation and loneliness because you can identify with somebody else having the same feelings that you do.”

Scholten recommends going outdoors, if possible, to exercise or get fresh air and sunshine — while maintaining proper social distancing from others. She says spiritual resources like devotions, prayer and meditation can help reduce anxiety as well.

Statewide Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds says it’s important to keep child care centers open for babies, toddlers, preschoolers AND school-aged kids — so workers in health care, emergency response AND the food industry can stay on the job.

(As above) “We need to support them at this time by continuing to care for their young children so they can do what’s necessary to serve the needs of Iowans.”

Reynolds is asking schools, churches and other community organizations to consider how they may help provide child care to the children of workers who are providing essential services during the pandemic.

(As above) “Some communities have already stepped up; 117 school districts and non-public schools have said that they’re willing and able to provide the space needed for child care programs,” Reynolds says, “and 94 of those have staff to get a program up and running.”

The Iowa Department of Human Services has a map posted online that lists child care openings around the state. Kelly Garcia is the agency’s director.

(As above)  “Parents can scan by county and see openings by age group. They’ll even be able to click on a button and call a center directly,” Garcia says.

The temperature of all children and staff must be taken before they enter any Iowa child care.

(As above) “Children and staff with a fever of 100.4 or above must go home — no exceptions,” Garcia says. “Distancing as much as possible within existing centers is highly encouraged and we’d also ask that all centers remove plush toys, prohibit toys brought from home and send all blankets that children use during the day for naptime home daily for cleaning.”

More than 43-hundred Iowa homes and centers are licensed to provide child care.

(As above) “Many have shifted their business model to serve non-school-aged children of first responders and hospital staff,” Garcia says. “You, too, are public servants caring for children and keeping them safe during this unprecedented time.”

State officials announced on Sunday that new test results had confirmed 22 more positive cases of COVID-19 in Iowa A total a 90 positive cases have been identified in 24 of Iowa’s 99 counties, including one confirmed case in Sioux County, here in northwest Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Human Services has an online map of licensed child care facilities across the state, including here in the far northwest corner counties. CLICK HERE for that interactive map.

Each child care facility is taking steps to keep their children safe from exposure to the coronavirus.

Statewide Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds has ordered the closure of hair and nail salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors and swimming pools. The mandatory closures were effective at 10 p.m. Sunday and also apply to spas, tanning facilities and massage therapy establishments.

The governor announced these moves as part of a new disaster proclamation that suspends foreclosures on residential, commercial and agricultural properties as well.

(As above) “Also licensing relief for medical professionals will ensure that doctors, nurses and others who are ready to step up and serve are able to do so,” Reynolds says.

This weekend, the governor announced the U.S. Small Business Administration has issued a disaster declaration for the state of Iowa. It means small businesses impacted by the pandemic may apply for low-interest federal disaster loans. Some business owners have expressed concern that getting a federal loan might disqualify their business from receiving other forms of federal aid. Reynolds says she doesn’t know the answer to that right now.

(As above) “I will check on that and make sure it’s not a problem,” Reynolds says.

The governor says she and two top state officials plan to discuss how to apply for the SBA disaster loans at an upcoming press conference.