Northwest Iowa — The four northwesternmost Iowa counties have seen a net increase of 77 cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, according to the latest statistics from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Sioux County had an increase of 69 for a total of 214. It is worth mentioning that there is now a TestIowa site in Sioux Center, so presumably, there are more Sioux County residents being tested. Lyon is up five cases at 24. O’Brien is up two at 33. Osceola County is up one case at 33.

Again, these numbers are raw numbers and do not take into account how many people have recovered.

No deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in these counties.

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report (5/28/2020):

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 133, up 6
Cherokee 31, up 6
Buena Vista 810, up 95
Clay 17, up 4
Dickinson 21, up 2

Minnesota counties:
Jackson 39, up 0
Nobles 1544, up 41
Rock 22, unchanged
Minnehaha 3355, up 25
Lincoln 238, up 2
Union 91, up 3

In order to give you an idea of the density of cases, here are some selected numbers adjusted for population — given the number of cases actually in a county — the following are the numbers of cases there would be if the population of the county were 100,000 residents. But keep in mind, that these numbers include people who have had COVID-19, and have since recovered.

As far as regional hot spots, Nobles County, Minnesota tops the list with a density of 7139 per 100,000. Next is Buena Vista County with 4076. Next is Woodbury County with 2693, and then Minnehaha County, South Dakota with 1737.

In the four northwesternmost Iowa counties, Sioux County tops the density list at 811 per 100,000. Osceola is next with 546. Next is O’Brien County with 217, and Lyon County reports a density of 203.

Northwest Iowa — Primary election day is this Tuesday, June 2nd. However, your polling location might not be as convenient as you are used to.

In most cases, in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus and protect both poll workers and voters, the auditor’s offices are limiting the polling locations. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.

In Osceola County, there will only be three polling locations: The American Legion Hall in Ashton, the Ocheyedan Town Hall, and the Sibley Senior Center, according to the Osceola County Auditor’s office. Click here for more information on who votes where.

 

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — Iowa lawmakers will have to pare down the state spending plans they were drafting before the pandemic hit.

The state Revenue Estimating Conference met Friday afternoon and lowered its estimate of state tax collections. The governor’s budget director and a division chief from the Legislative Services Agency were more optimistic about an economic recovery than Clear Lake C-P-A David Underwood. He’s the third member of the panel.

(as asid) “I don’t think we have reached a bottom,” Underwood says. “We certainly could climb out and fall back rather quickly.”

Underwood argued to set a far lower estimate of state tax collections.

(as said) “I think most of the businesses that we’re hoping are going to reopen — a lot of those won’t,” Underwood said.

But, in the end, the group agreed to slice 360 MILLION off its earlier prediction of next year’s state tax collections. Holly Lyons of the Legislative Services Agency says the real economic consequences of the pandemic are still unknown and that’s why she resisted a deeper reduction.

(as asid) “I’m a little concerned about the message that we send,” Lyons said. “There’s enough fear and trepidation now out there.”

Dave Roederer, the governor’s budget director, says he believes the economic setbacks of the past 12 weeks are temporary, not permanent.

(as said) “While bruised and somewhat battered, our fundamentals are still strong in this state,” Roederer says. “…Is everything rosy? Of course not.”

But Roederer says he believes most if not all the Iowans who’ve lost their jobs will be able to go back to work.” The three-member panel predicts overall state tax revenue in the next fiscal year will be just eight-tenths of a percent below this year’s total. The group shaved 150 million dollars off their estimate of the state’s tax take in THIS fiscal year, but it will not require emergency state budget cuts in the next month. The current state budget has an unspent cushion of nearly 400 million dollars to dip into to cover that.

Northwest Iowa — The four northwesternmost Iowa counties have seen a net increase of three cases of COVID-19 in the 24-hour period ending at noon on Friday according to the latest statistics from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Sioux County had an increase of two cases for a total of 214. Lyon is unchanged at 19. O’Brien is up one at 28. Osceola County is unchanged at 32.

Again, these numbers are raw numbers and do not take into account how many people have recovered.

No deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in these counties.

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report (5/28/2020):

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 127, up 8
Cherokee 25, up 1
Buena Vista 715, up 15
Clay 13, unchanged
Dickinson 19, up 3

Minnesota counties:
Jackson 39, unchanged
Nobles 1503, up 7
Rock 22, unchanged

South Dakota counties:
Minnehaha 3330, up 13
Lincoln 236, down 1
Union 88, unchanged

In order to give you an idea of the density of cases, here are some selected numbers adjusted for population — given the number of cases actually in a county — the following are the numbers of cases there would be if the population of the county were 100,000 residents. But keep in mind, that these numbers include people who have had COVID-19, and have since recovered.

As far as regional hot spots, Nobles County, Minnesota tops the list with a density of 6949 per 100,000. Next is Buena Vista County with 3598. Next is Woodbury County with 2642, and then Minnehaha County, South Dakota with 1717.

In the four northwesternmost Iowa counties, Sioux County tops the density list at 613 per 100,000. Osceola is next with 530. Next is O’Brien County with 202, and Lyon County reports a density of 161.

Statewide Iowa — The government has sent out nearly 150 million Economic Impact Payments (a.k.a. coronavirus stimulus payments) to Americans, most of them through direct deposits or paper checks.

But a small portion of those people — roughly 4 million — are getting their payment a different way, through a prepaid debit card that arrives in the mail.

Heidi Brown, Executive Vice President at Citizens State Bank, talks about why some taxpayers received their stimulus as a debit card.

(As said, “Some people got ACH or automatic clearing house and electronic deposit into their account. because what the treasury leaned on was they went back to the last tax return, where there was, if you either received an electronic refund or you made an electronic payment, they relied on that bank account information. If that hadn’t happened and you were never an electronic filer, and you didn’t receive those things electronically, then they went out and there was a round of checks. That started taking quite a long time and so these EIP prepaid cards have gone out. I really can’t give you a solid answer as to why they decided to do part in checks. They sent out, the information that I got, said there were approximately four million of these VISA debit prepaid EIP cards sent out. They’ve been out, the earliest customer I’m aware of has had theirs in their hands for about two weeks already. So they’ve been sending them out in rounds. )

Brown tells us how one goes about activating the card.

(As said, “If you get one in the mail, it comes in a welcome packet. It’s a VISA, Metabank VISA prepaid card and it’s got the taxpayers name on it. That’s going to be based on filings. So some of them are coming, you know, if you filed single then it’s coming in your name, and if you are married and filing jointly, it’s got two names on it. And in the welcome packet, there are instructions because you do have to activate it. So you call into the 800 number that’s listed in that welcome packet. You set your four digit pin during that activation call, then you sign the back of the strip per the VISA, that’s just a VISA rule that if cards aren’t signed, they’re not valid. So you call the 800 number, you set your pin number, you sign it, and you can start to use it”)

The Visa Debit Card is good where ever Visa Debit Cards are accepted

(As said, “You can use it anywhere VISA Debit Cards are accepted, and you can use it in store, online, or by phone”)

For those who do not want the money on a card, Brown says there is a way to deposit the stimulus to your bank account.

(As said, “In the welcome packet, again, that you get there are instructions. For instance the customer that I talked to didn’t want it on her card, she just wanted to get it all transferred into her checking account, and you can do that. There’s instructions but they tell you that you need your banks routing number and then your account number, but you can make a transfer, and just put it all in your bank account if you prefer to do that”)

For more information, you can visit the official stimulus debit card website at EIPcard.com.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — New unemployment claims moved up slightly last week.

First-time claims were 14,586 which is up around 25,000 from the previous week. It is the first time in three weeks those claims have gone up. Manufacturing saw the most new claims with 3,835. Self-employed and independent contractors filed nearly 2,382 first-time claims.

The number of continuing unemployment claims dropped by around 4,000 for the week to 180,670. The state paid out nearly $49 million in unemployment benefits last week.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Animal rights groups are criticizing the methods used by Iowa pork producers to euthanize the animals that they are not able to take to the packing plant.

Coronavirus shutdowns slowed production and Ag Secretary Mike Naig says no producer wants to destroy animals.

(As he says)”As it relates to some of the activist activity in the state, I think it is disgusting,” Naig says.

He says hog farmers hate this more than anyone.

(as he says)”I think that our producers are experiencing and unprecedented disruption in their business and their way of life. And we’ve got folks with a clear agenda that are kicking our farmers while they are down,” he says.

Naig says producers follow specific guidelines.

(as he says)”The facts are that producers work with their veterinarians. Veterinarians follow the American Vet Med Association’s guidelines for euthanasia– humane euthanasia, even in constrained situations like we are in today,” according to Naig. “That’s the guidelines, those are the best practices that producers will use. No producer wants to be in this situation.”

Naig says the backup of hogs will reduce as meat processing plants get back up to full production — but it will still take some time to catch up.

Sheldon, Iowa — Things are slowly inching back toward normal at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon.

NCC Vice President for Student and Academic Services, Dr. John Hartog tells us about it.

But, says Hartog, there are some classes that meet in the summer that need face-to-face, hands-on instruction.

He says they continue to serve the community, but at this time the campus (with the exception of the Lifelong Learning and Recreation Center — or LLRC) remains closed to the public.

Dr. Hartog says the LLRC is open to members with some limitations including limited open hours. For more information, you can contact the LLRC.

We asked Hartog about the fall semester. He says we need to keep in mind that this is a fluid situation.

Hartog says if you have any questions, you may certainly call NCC at 324-5061 or 800-352-4907. Or check out the information on their website at nwicc.edu.

May 28, 2020 - 3:54 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Not everything is negative in this time of the pandemic. Some things are actually better than normal. One of the things that would fit into that category, or at least the category of being somewhat normal — is the planting and crop progress in area fields.

Iowa State University agronomist Joel De Jong tells us that compared to last year, farmers are much further along in the process.

He gives us some more details on crop progress.

Next, we asked De Jong to peer into his crystal ball and tell us how he thinks corn and bean prices will be affected this fall by COVID-19. De Jong reminds us, he is an agronomist, not a marketing specialist, but he says there are supply and demand issues.

He tells us that what happens this growing season remains to be seen and there are still many variables that could change things by then as well.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The Iowa Department of Agriculture has launched a program to help pork producers deal with hogs they can’t take to market after coronavirus shut downs at packing plants.

Ag Secretary Mike Naig says it’s something no producer wants to deal with.

(As above) “Farmers are doing everything they can to avoid having to take the step of euthanizing and disposing of animals,” Naig says. “They are finding alternate ways to market, they are selling direct to consumers, they’re changing their feed ration to slow down the rate of gain — they are doing everything they can. This truly is an action, a decision of last resort.”  

The Ag Department is offering producers 40 dollars for each animal to help cover some of the disposal costs for market-ready hogs.

(As above) “It won’t cover all costs, but it is a part of the cost that they’ll incur to euthanize and dispose of animals,” he says. 

Naig says they are still hoping for federal help to cover the loss of revenue from the hogs. Iowa State University estimates that by mid-May there were approximately 600-thousand pigs in Iowa that were unable to go to the packing plants. Iowa producers were faced with killing thousands of chickens and turkeys during the avian influenza outbreak five years ago — and Naig says they learned some things then.

(As above) “One of the key learnings from that was to really empower producers to make decisions and to take control of the situation,” according to Naig. “They know their operations better than anyone else. And they also know the resources at their disposal better than anyone else. We learned that back in 2015.” 

He says they will hand out the funding in at lease three rounds.

(As above) “The first round closes Friday of this week, and farmers will need to reach out to our office. They can call the main number or they can go to IowaAgriculture-dot-gov and there is a way to apply there. And then we will subsequently roll out rounds two and three,” Naig says.

Naig says this will help producers deal with the short-term problem. In the long-term, he says they need to continue to make the packing plants safe for workers.

(As above) He says that it will allow the employees to confidently show up and know that they can work safely. “That’s ultimately what it takes to return to full processing capacity. Today in Iowa we are running at about 75 percent of our normal processing capacity — an again that number steadily improves each day.” Naig says.

He says this could continue to be a problem throughout the summer. Each applicant who is approved will receive funding for at least one-thousand animals and up to 30-thousand each round, depending on the number of applicants. The money comes from federal coronavirus relief funding.