September 16, 2020 - 3:59 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — A total of SIXTY new COVID-19 cases were reported on Wednesday in the four northwestern-most Iowa counties, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Sioux County reports a total of 1163 cases, after a rise of thirty-eight cases in the 24-hour period. O’Brien County is at 273, which is up seven. Lyon County was up thirteen cases at 212, and Osceola County was up two at 112.

The rise of sixty cases appears to be the highest one-day rise on record for our northwest Iowa counties. About three and a third percent of Sioux County residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19. That works out to about one case in every 30 Sioux County residents.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has 51, Sioux County has 429, O’Brien County has 107, and Osceola has 21. But only a very small number of those cases are hospitalized. The latest statistics available at this time are for Tuesday. And at that point, only five people were hospitalized in Sioux County, four in O’Brien, and none in Osceola County or Lyon County.

Fourteen northwest Iowans have died in connection with COVID-19 since the pandemic started. Eight in O’Brien County and three each in Lyon and Sioux Counties.

Recovery rate:
Out of the 212 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 158 have recovered, for a rate of about 75%.
Out of the 1163 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 731 have recovered, for a rate of about 63%.
Out of the 273 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 158 have recovered, for a rate of about 58%.
Out of the 112 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 91 have recovered, for a rate of about 81%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 947, up 11
Cherokee 166, up 3
Buena Vista 1903, up 3
Clay 262, up 4
Dickinson 454, up 2.

These numbers reflect the period of noon Tuesday through noon Wednesday.

September 16, 2020 - 3:33 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — There’s some good news if you are the parent or guardian of one or more school-aged children attending a number of schools in the area — and your financial situation has been impacted by COVID-19 measures.

The USDA is providing some money to schools that apply — and this money will go to pay for school lunches. That means that for a limited time — all school lunches and breakfasts will be free in districts that have been accepted into the program. The program is underway in some districts and will start soon in some others.

Central Lyon Superintendent Brent Jorth tells us more.

(as said:) “We’ll start on Thursday, October 1st. As everybody knows, families and our nation’s been impacted due to COVID and so there’s additional CARES act dollars that is been allocated to the USDA to help provide free lunches and free breakfast to students through the end of this calendar year.”

He says Central Lyon will start participating in a couple of weeks.

(as said:) “Central Lyon is going to start participating October first and we’re going to be able to provide (kind of) the first time through the lunch line for both breakfast and lunch free of cost to all students.”

Jorth tells us there is a possibility that the funds for the program could run out at the federal level before January first. He says if that happens, the district will have to revert back to having parents pay for meals (that is, unless they normally qualify for free and reduced-price meals.) He says there are a couple more caveats.

(as said:) “The only cost to students or… families really… will be if they pick up an extra milk or want a second meal or another à la carte item that we might offer. So we still want to remind families to check their account balances because if their son or daughter, you know… wants extra chocolate milk, or maybe a second slice of pizza that’s going to still come out of their own family account. So the program that the USDA… the summer food program… rules that will be applied is just for that first time through the lunch line or the first time through the breakfast line in the morning.”

He tells us the reason they’re using summer program guidelines, which specify free meals.

(as said:) “Due to COVID-19 and the reality is that everybody faced across the country due to schools closing all across the country in the spring, they have instituted this summer food program and those rules to anybody any school district that wants to participate.”

According to Jorth, Central Lyon families may not be aware of the free summer lunch program as historically, Central Lyon has not had enough low-income families to be able to participate in the free summer lunch program, and they’ve sent families to other schools in the area that provide free meals instead.

According to Sheldon Superintendent Cory Myer, the program is already underway at Sheldon Community Schools, and will also continue until the end of 2020.

September 16, 2020 - 1:15 pm - Posted in News

Primghar, Iowa — People are seeing food insecurity worsen statewide. Michelle Book, the CEO of Foodbank Of Iowa says that she is losing hope as the economic situation worsens as well as the food situation.

However, how are things on a local scale? Brenda Collier, Upper Des Moines Opportunity’s Outreach Specialist, took some time to explain the  local situation.

(as said)“Our community has really stepped up and assisting with making sure that our food pantry is stocked, and ready for the needs of the community. So, I don’t see a big change because we have a great community.”

Collier says that she has seen the need for food rise, because she has seen more people come to the pantry.

(as said)“As far as more people, we have had an increase in people coming to the food pantry, and the need has risen, but other than that, I think it’s steady.”

Upper Des Moines Opportunity is one of 18 Community Action Agencies in the State of Iowa and has been serving our communities since 1965.

September 16, 2020 - 11:00 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The latest Iowa Association of Business and Industry survey shows a positive outlook for the fourth quarter while concerns about the pandemic still linger.

ABI president, Mike Ralston, says he was surprised by the continued optimism.

(as said)“Most ABI members expect to have their sales expand or at the very worst stay the same in the fourth quarter. That’s about 90 percent answer that way, almost 50 percent of them expect to see increased sales, so that’s pretty good news,” Ralston says.

He says 53 percent expect the number of employees in their business to stay the same and 37 percent expect that number to grow. Ralston says the confidence comes with the experience they’ve gained in already dealing with the pandemic.

(as said)“If we dig deeper into some of these results, people are saying they’ve identified new supply chains, new partners, that’s led to increased markets and they’ve been able to adapt and grow,” according to Ralston. “They didn’t necessarily think that would be the case, but that’s exactly what has happened.”

He says there have been some new issues that come up regarding concern for employees.

(as said) Ralston says, “The Folks that responded to our survey, mention specifically, that they are concerned about and thinking about employee well being, and that came in two forms. The first one, of course, their physical health with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ralston goes on to say the second concern was the stress as employees tried to take care of their families.

(as said)“Keeping their family healthy. What about their kids in school, how does that work? Making sure that they can stay in this job. Childcare issues are something that we continue to see,” Ralston explains.

He says the closing of schools and childcare because of the pandemic puts a lot of pressure on workers.

(as said)Ralston says, “Parents want to make sure their kids are safe and that they are learning, especially if it’s a single-parent home, they really have to decide do I go to work today or do I stay home with my kids. So, it’s a real issue.”

He says finding employees to fill jobs continues to be an issue. Another thing Ralston says surprised him in the survey is the lack of mention of the November elections as an issue.

(as said)“Not a single person raised the election as an issue,” Ralston says. “I think that if you talk to most Iowa business people, they’re concerned with running their business, they’re concerned with keeping production going and getting the product to the customer. So, while they are interested in the election, it’s not their day-to-day focus.”

ABI has 15-hundred member companies in all 99 counties and those companies have more than 330-thousand employees.

Statewide Iowa — A new poll conducted for AARP Iowa shows 57 percent of likely Iowa voters over the age of 50 are planning to cast their ballots before Election Day.

AARP state director Brad Anderson says that’s a big swing from 2016 when 49% of voters over the age of 50 voted absentee.

(as said) “Eight points in Iowa in a state that is purple and where it is going to be close is a very big deal,” Anderson says, “and in addition to that we are going to have a lot of voters who are voting by mail for the first time and so we want to make sure they have the information they need to cast that ballot.”

AARP is sending an absentee ballot request form to the 360,000 Iowans who are AARP members.

(as said) “We want to make sure that Iowans have the ability to vote safely and we want them to do that in record numbers, similar to what they did in the primary,” Anderson says.

There was record turn-out in Iowa’s June 2nd Primary and 80% of voters chose to vote early with an absentee ballot. Anderson says the group’s poll also gauged which issues are most important to older voters.

(as said) “We want to make sure that politicians know that older voters are going to vote this election cycle, they’re likely going to do so in record numbers which means they need to address issues important to older voters,” Anderson says.

Eighty-two percent of the “50-plus” Iowa voters surveyed said Social Security was a critical issue for them and 84 percent ranked jobs and the economy as “extremely” or “very important” as they make their voting decisions.

(as said) “COVID-19 is a very important issue, no doubt. Social Justice is a very important issue, no doubt. We want politicians to pay attention to those issues, but we also want to remind them that the core issues like Social Security and Medicare and lowering the costs of prescription drugs are still a very big deal to 50-plus voters.”

According to AARP, 55% of the Iowans who voted in the 2016 presidential election were “50 plus” and it was even higher in 2018 as 60% of Iowa voters were above the age of 50.

Sibley/George, Iowa — Some students at Sibley-Ocheyedan schools will have to have another taste of distance learning: a Sibley-Ocheyedan student has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Meanwhile, a student at George/Little Rock who is on their volleyball team has also been diagnosed.

Sibley-Ocheyedan Superintendent James Craig released a statement on Monday that told the school community about the news. He says it does not mean that school will have to close or anything like that.

Craig says that Osceola County Public Health has conducted contact tracing, and says that families of students and staff that needed to go into quarantine due to exposure have been contacted and will be transitioned into online learning for the duration of their quarantine. He says that if you were not contacted by public health before the statement was released, you do not have to do anything at this time.

According to the superintendent, students and staff with a positive COVID-19 test may return to school if all of the following conditions are met:

You’re not taking anything for fever and it’s been at least 24 hours since you’ve had a fever.
AND
Your symptoms are improving and it’s been at least 10 days since symptoms started.

He says if no symptoms develop, students identified as close contacts can return to school 14 days from their last contact with the COVID-19 case.

Craig tells us that Sibley-Ocheyedan Community Schools continue to strongly recommend that staff and students wear masks when six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained for longer than fifteen (15) minutes. Stay home if you are sick. He says the district also reminds parents to take their child(ren)’s temperatures before coming to school and recommends anyone contact their family doctor if they have any of the following symptoms:

● Fever above 100.4℉ or chills
● Cough
● Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
● Fatigue
● Muscle or body aches
● Headache
● New loss of taste or smell
● Sore throat
● Congestion or runny nose
● Nausea or vomiting
● Diarrhea

Craig advises that for the most up-to-date information, you can go to the district website at www.thegenerals.org and click on “COVID INFO” at the top of the homepage. Anyone with questions should contact school nurse Ashley Hensch at (712) 754-3636.

George-Little Rock Superintendent Tom Luxford tells us that their COVID-positive student was on the volleyball team, so the G-LR volleyball program is suspended for two weeks while players are quarantined. Luxford also stated that Lyon County Public Health conducted contact tracing related to the positive case, and families of students that needed to go into quarantine have been contacted.

September 15, 2020 - 4:20 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — A total of twenty-seven new COVID-19 cases were reported on Tuesday in the four northwestern-most Iowa counties, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Once again, most of them in Sioux County. And Sioux County is reporting the highest percentage of tests coming back positive.

Sioux County reports a total of 1125 cases, after a rise of fifteen cases. O’Brien County is at 266, which is up four. Lyon County was up six cases at 199, and Osceola County was up two at 110.

The 14-day rolling average shows that for the state of Iowa, Sioux County has the highest percentage of tests coming back positive, at 24.2 percent. Lyon County was second with 17.4 percent. Plymouth County was third with 16.0 percent. O’Brien County was fourth with 15.5 percent of ordered tests coming back positive, and Osceola County was down the list a little at 15th place with a rate of 12 percent.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has 38, Sioux County has 403, O’Brien County has 101, and Osceola has 19. But only a very small number of those cases are hospitalized. The latest statistics available at this time are for Monday. And at that point, six people were hospitalized in Sioux County, three in O’Brien, one in Lyon County, and none in Osceola County.

Fourteen northwest Iowans have died in connection with COVID-19 since the pandemic started. Eight in O’Brien County and three each in Lyon and Sioux Counties.

Recovery rate:
Out of the 199 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 158 have recovered, for a rate of about 79%.
Out of the 1125 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 719 have recovered, for a rate of about 64%.
Out of the 266 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 157 have recovered, for a rate of about 59%.
Out of the 110 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 91 have recovered, for a rate of about 83%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 936, up 9
Cherokee 163, up 3
Buena Vista 1900, up 1
Clay 258, down 4
Dickinson 452, unchanged

These numbers reflect the period of noon Monday through noon Tuesday.

September 14, 2020 - 4:31 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The elevated coronavirus numbers continue. A total of fifty-eight new COVID-19 cases were reported on Monday in the four northwestern-most Iowa counties, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Once again, most of them in Sioux County, but other counties are reporting large rises in case numbers as well.

Sioux County reports a total of 1110 cases, after a rise of thirty-four cases. O’Brien County is at 262, which is up nine. Lyon County was up eleven cases at 193, and Osceola County was up four at 108.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has 31, Sioux County has 372, O’Brien County has 97, and Osceola has 14.

Fourteen northwest Iowans have died in connection with COVID-19 since the pandemic started. Eight in O’Brien County and three each in Lyon and Sioux Counties.

Recovery rate:
Out of the 193 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 155 have recovered, for a rate of about 80%.
Out of the 1110 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 702 have recovered, for a rate of about 63%.
Out of the 262 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 150 have recovered, for a rate of about 57%.
Out of the 108 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 90 have recovered, for a rate of about 83%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 927, up 2
Cherokee 160, up 1
Buena Vista 1899, up 1
Clay 262, up 8
Dickinson 452, unchanged

These numbers reflect the period of noon Sunday through noon Monday.

Statewide Iowa – The state program that allows parents and students to save for college is expanding the ways that money can be used. State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald says one change now allows College Savings Iowa funds to be used for qualified apprenticeship programs.

(As above) “You can use that money to pay for the supplies and the tuition and stuff you need to do an apprenticeship program. We think it makes that program a whole lot better,” Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald says the change involving apprenticeship programs acknowledges the need for people to fill the jobs.

(As above) “Electricians and carpenters and bricklayers — all those valuable professions that we need that are great jobs. But these apprenticeships sometimes cost some money for tuition and they may have to buy special tools and things like that. Now, that’s covered by College Savings Iowa,” Fitzgerald says.

The money put into the program had previously been restricted to qualified expenses for a student in college. Another change allows the money to pay off past college expenses.

(As above) “Families can use 10-thousand dollars of money — if they don’t use it to go through college….they can use it to pay off college debt,” according to Fitzgerald. “Because we know college debt is a big problem out there. So they can use up to 10-thousand dollars to pay off one child’s college debt.” 

The money put into College Savings Iowa can grow and provides a tax break when it is used.

(As above) “Each individual mom and dad, you can deduct up to three-thousand-439 dollars ($3,439) of the money you put into one child’s College Savings Iowa account. And on top of that, it will grow tax-free from the federal government and the state government,” Fitzgerald says. 

To learn more about College Savings Iowa, call (888) 672-9116 or visit CollegeSavingsIowa.com

 

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Two people from out-of-state are behind bars in the Lyon County Jail in Rock Rapids, facing both their original felony charges and a laundry list of misdemeanors after leading law officers on pursuits in both South Dakota and Iowa.

According to a press release from the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, 38-year-old Anthony Thomas Sargent and 27-year-old Cassandra Dawn Adams are from Sioux Falls. But according to jail records, they both are listed as being from St. Peter, Minnesota.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office involvement in the matter started on Saturday evening, about 5:40 p.m. when Minnehaha County Metro Communications advised that officers from the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department were in a pursuit of a black Jeep Liberty bearing Minnesota plates on SD Highway 42/IA Highway 9 heading into Lyon County. Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep says the GFP was pursuing the pair because they are charged with multiple felony drug offenses.

The South Dakota officers terminated the pursuit just inside the Iowa border with the suspect vehicle traveling southeast on Highway 9.

The sheriff’s office reports that about an hour later, a Lyon County Deputy located the suspect vehicle near the intersection of 170th Street and Ashley Avenue, about three miles northwest of Lake Pahoja.

The deputy attempted to conduct a traffic stop on the vehicle. They tell us the vehicle took off at a high rate of speed, attempting to elude the deputy and other responding officers. The pursuit continued on as the suspect vehicle went off-road into a cornfield near the intersection of Highway 18 and Buchanan Avenue, two miles west of Inwood. There, they tell us, the suspect vehicle and a Lyon County Deputy’s patrol vehicle collided, ultimately ending the pursuit. Two suspects were taken into custody. Sheriff Vander Stoep says the patrol Tahoe was likely totaled in the collision.

Sargent was identified as the driver. He faces an aggravated misdemeanor charge of eluding-25 mph or more over the speed limit and simple misdemeanor offenses of:

Possession of Stolen Property-5th Degree
Criminal Mischief-5th Degree
Reckless Driving
Driving Without a License
Failure to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle
Defective Tires
Failure to Display Registration Plate
Eleven counts of Failure to Obey Stop Sign
Eleven counts of Speeding
Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device
Failure to Maintain Control
Vehicles on Sidewalks (Inwood City Ordinance)
Striking Fixtures on Roadway

Adams, the passenger, faces an aggravated misdemeanor charge of aiding and abetting eluding and simple misdemeanors offenses that include

Allowing Unauthorized Person to Drive
Violation of Financial Liability Coverage-Accident
Seven counts of Littering

The Sheriff’s Office reports that Lyon County Conservation Officers, the Inwood Fire and Rescue Department, the Iowa State Patrol, the Inwood Vet Clinic, and Inwood Body assisted them.