Northwest Iowa — Five COVID deaths and eighty-four new COVID cases were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Thursday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

In the last 24 hours, one Lyon County resident, three Sioux County residents, and one O’Brien county resident all lost their lives to the disease. Seventy-one people have died in the four counties since the pandemic started — Sioux County has now had twenty-nine. O’Brien County has had thirty-two. Osceola County has had one death. Lyon County has now had nine since the pandemic started.

O’Brien County was up 18 cases at 1344 cases since the pandemic started. Sioux County was up 47 cases at 3831. Lyon County was up 12 cases at 1071, and Osceola County was up 7 at 546. An average of about one in every 10 northwest Iowans in our area has now tested positive for COVID-19 since March.

Out of the 1071 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 650 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 61%.
Out of the 3831 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 2828 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 74%.
Out of the 1344 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 904 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 67%.
Out of the 546 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 352 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 64%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 2864 , up 52
Cherokee 958 , up 26
Buena Vista 3155 , up 35
Clay 1239 , up 30
Dickinson 1455 , up 33

Rock Valley, Iowa — Five area fire departments worked for ten hours on Wednesday to extinguish a fire that burned 1500 round cornstalk bales near Rock Valley.

According to Rock Valley Fire Chief Brent Eshuis, about 3:45 p.m., the Rock Valley Fire Department was called to the report of a ditch fire with round bales on fire in the 3400 block of Fig Avenue, three miles south of Rock Valley and one mile east.

The chief says the fire department saw a large hay fire as they approached the scene. He says it appears to have started when a ditch fire went out of control and started the nearby round bales on fire. He says it also burned an electric line and pole owned by MidAmerican Energy. He says they called the electric company, who assisted on-scene. Eshuis tells us they sprayed the bales down and a local excavator helped them by pulling them apart. Four to five farmers with payloaders helped. He says they took the bales into a pasture. Eventually, AB Excavating of Larchwood came with an excavator with a 60-foot reach. Eshuis says a big thank-you goes to them. He says without them, they’d still be there working on the fire.

Eshuis says no injuries were reported.

The fire department was assisted by the Hull, Sioux Center, Ireton, and Doon fire departments, the Rock Valley Ambulance Squad, the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office, the Iowa State Patrol, the Sioux County Engineer’s Office, Sioux County Emergency Management, the Rural Water system, and neighbors with their payloaders.

Chief Eshuis reports that the damage consisted of the bales, the electric pole, and possible smoke damage in a house.

He says the firefighters who responded were on the scene for ten hours and used between 150,000 and 175,000 gallons of water to extinguish the huge blaze.

Picture from the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office

Statewide Iowa — Pending FDA approval, Governor Kim Reynolds says Iowa will get its first shipment of 26-thousand doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during the week of December 13th. That’ll be the first of multiple shipments this month which should total 172-thousand doses.

(As above) “It’s this initial quantity of vaccines that will be prioritized according to the recommendations of the CDC. In Iowa, we’ll distribute a portion of the allocation to hospitals for their workforce and to our long-term care facilities.”

The Pfizer vaccine is said to have an efficacy rate of 95-percent and it has to be given in two doses, 21 days apart. Iowa Department of Human Services director Kelly Garcia says storage is key.

(As above) “The vaccine requires ultra-cold storage at temperatures of negative-70 degrees Celsius. Once thawed, the vaccine is stable at refrigerator temperatures for five days.

Garcia says the state’s nailed down 39 locations so far for ultra-cold storage. She says by the middle of next year, there should be plenty of vaccine for everyone. The Moderna vaccine, which is also expected to be shipped to Iowa, is said to have an efficacy rate of 94.5%. It also has to be given in two doses, 28 days apart, and can be stored at a more traditional level of negative-20-degrees Celsius and it can be stable for 30 days, once thawed.

Boyden, Iowa — The White 2006 Chevrolet Impala that was reported stolen from Boyden Wednesday morning has been located.

According to the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office, the vehicle was located in South Dakota. Authorities have released no further details.

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Original post 8:18am, December 2, 2020

Boyden, Iowa — Sioux County authorities are searching for a car that was stolen from Boyden early this morning (Wednesday, December 2nd).

Sioux County authorities are asking you to keep your eyes peeled for a white 2006 Chevrolet Impala with the word “Impala” in white across the top of the windshield. The car bears Iowa license plates JEJ443.

If you see this car you’re asked to call the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office at 712-737-3307.

Below are a couple of photos of the stolen Impala………..

Photos courtesy of the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office.

December 3, 2020 - 2:05 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — If you’re someone who has had COVID-19, your fellow northwest Iowans could use your help. That’s from Dr. Amy Badberg, a physician at Sanford Sheldon Medical Center.

She tells us if you’ve had it, your body has something that new or critically-ill COVID patients could use.

 

(as said:) “The convalescent plasma is plasma that’s been taken from people who have had covid and recovered from it. And so what we are hoping with giving patients that are actively having COVID and are really sick with it… that we’re giving their immune system a boost by other people’s immune system helping them.”

Badberg tells us that plasma is the fluid part of your blood, minus the red and white blood cells. And she says the plasma is where antibodies live, such as the COVID antibodies that can fight off COVID.

(as said:) “When they go to donate this plasma, they actually test to see if they have antibodies in your blood and then they will keep it because they want those antibodies. So from somebody who’s recovered, they want those antibioties is to help somebody who’s fighting it right now to help their immune system help get rid of it.”

She says the patient experience for plasma donation is similar to giving blood, but it’s not something that can be done on the bloodmobile.

(as said:) “You have to travel unfortunately to Sioux City or Sioux Falls. You have to go to a plasma donation site. And what they will do is they will want to prove that you’ve had covid so they’ll want your positive test done and then they will draw blood and they will take some of your plasma and so they put an IV in each of your arms and take your blood out, take the plasma out, and then put the rest of the red blood cells back in. So you won’t really notice any difference but we’re just taking that part of the blood that has those antibodies in it so we can give it to other people. “

According to Dr. Badberg, giving plasma, and thereby your antibodies so that someone else can benefit does not diminish your own immunity.

(as said:) “So your body, once it starts to make antibodies is going to continue to make those antibodies. So by us taking them out with the plasma, you are not more likely to get sicker or more likely to get it sooner again. It’s just purely taking those out and giving them to somebody else that it would help.”

Community Blood Bank Executive Director Ken Ver Steeg says they offer plasma donation in Sioux Falls at their fixed site. He says the equipment is very sensitive and it takes your blood, separates the plasma from the red cells and platelets, then returns the red cells and platelets to you.

According to Ver Steeg, the donation takes about 40 minutes. Using this method of donation, the donor is able to give two to three units of convalescent plasma that will be directly transfused to two to three critically-ill COVID patients.

You can call the Community Blood Bank in Sioux Falls at (877)877-3070 or visit cbblifeblood.org for more information.

You can call Lifeserve Blood Center in Sioux City at (800) 287-4903 or visit lifeservebloodcenter.org for more information.

Northwest Iowa — One death and sixty-nine new COVID cases were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Wednesday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

It was a Sioux County resident who lost their life. Sixty-six people have died in the four counties since the pandemic started — Sioux County has now had twenty-six. O’Brien County has had thirty-one. Osceola County has had one death. Lyon County has had eight since the pandemic started.

O’Brien County was up 17 cases at 1326 cases since the pandemic started. Sioux County was up 45 cases at 3784. Lyon County was up 4 cases at 1059, and Osceola County was up 3 at 539. An average of about one in every 11 northwest Iowans in our area has tested positive for COVID-19 since March.

Out of the 1059 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 634 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 60%.
Out of the 3784 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 2805 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 74%.
Out of the 1326 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 886 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 67%.
Out of the 539 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 345 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 64%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 2812, up 38
Cherokee 932, up 26
Buena Vista 3120, up 30
Clay 1209, up 14
Dickinson 1422, up 16

Northwest Iowa — A freshman State Representative from northwest Iowa has been named Vice Chair of a statehouse committee.

Representative-elect Dennis Bush of Cleghorn will serve as Vice Chair of the Iowa House Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee during the 89th Iowa General Assembly, according to House Speaker Pat Grassley.

Bush ran unopposed in the November general election for Iowa House District 3, after surviving a three-way race in the June primary, holding off fellow Republicans Lynn Evans of Aurelia and Mark McHugh of Sheldon. He’ll be taking the Iowa House seat formerly held by long-time legislator Dan Huseman, who is retiring from the legislature.

Iowa House District 3 covers Cherokee and O’Brien Counties, as well as parts of Sioux and Plymouth Counties.

Speaker Grassley, who is the grandson of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, say Representative-Elect Bush understands the importance of conservative budgeting and will be a strong advocate for the hard-working taxpayers of Iowa. Grassley says he knows Bush will continue to ensure that Iowans’ agriculture priorities are funded in a responsible way.

The legislative session begins Monday, January 11, 2021.

Northwest Iowa — Voter turnout in the recent election was strong in northwest Iowa. And absentee voting was popular.

According to the Iowa Secretary of State, O’Brien County had 76.49% voter turnout. They say there are 9,415 active and 508 inactive registered voters. The stats tell us that 3,908 people voted on election day, and nearly that many voted early or absentee, with 3,682 choosing that option. There were a total of 7,590 people that voted in the election. Very nearly half of the voters voted absentee — 48.5%.

O’Brien County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Barb Rohwer says 2020 the highest absentee turnout, but she says she can’t say if it was due to COVID or because of the mass mailing of the absentee requests by the Secretary of State. Rohwer says she believes that we will find that the level of absentee participation will stay around this rate if not higher. According to Rohwer, “Once voters experience the convenience of voting this way, they tend to continue.” She says she thinks this may become the new normal.

Sioux County had 83.19% turnout — which is one of the highest turnouts in the state. The figures tell us there are 22,086 active and 943 inactive registered voters. They say 10,735 people voted on election day, and 8,423 people voted early or absentee. There were a total of 19,158 people that voted in the election, or very nearly 44 percent.

Sioux County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Ryan Dokter says Sioux County’s turnout by percentage was just slightly less than in the 2016 general election, when turnout was 83.57%. But he says that is mainly due to the fact that the county has just over 1,000 more registered voters in 2020 than in 2016. Nonetheless, Dokter says it was still a very good turnout and right in line with 2012 and 2016 voter turnout.

He says absentees for 2016 were 5,784 or 31.55% of the total vote. Absentees for 2012 were 5,649 or 32.55% of the total vote. Dokter says 31% to 33% of the total vote is about normal for absentee ballots in Sioux County, so 44 percent is pretty high, but that’s to be expected with the continuing pandemic.

Osceola County had 77.41% turnout. They say there are 4,145 active and 179 inactive registered voters. The stats tell us that 1,872 people voted on election day, with 1,475 people voting early or absentee in Osceola County. There were a total of 3,347 that voted in the election. That means about 44% of Osceola County voters voted early or absentee.

Osceola County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Rochelle Van Tilburg tells us the 2020 turnout was higher than four years ago. She says in 2016 Osceola County had a turnout of 2,375 voted at the polls and 876 absentees. She says she believes the record of absentee voting was broken with this election, “…but of course that was because of COVID.”

Lyon County had 79.69% turnout. The figures tell us that there are 8,318 active and 371 inactive registered voters in the county. They say 3,546 Lyon County citizens voted on election day, with nearly the same number voting early or absentee — with 3,378 choosing that option. There were a total of 6,924 who voted in the election. That means about 48.8% of voters in Lyon County voted early or absentee.

Lyon County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Jen Smit tells us that absentee voting was higher this year, but not overall turnout. In the last Presidential Election in 2016, she says Lyon County had just slightly higher turnout at 79.94%. That year, 2,023 absentee ballots were sent out, with 1,966 ballots received back. Out of the total voter count of 6,431 in 2016, 4,465 people voted at the polls on Election Day. So that’s 69.4% voting at the polls, and 30.6% voting absentee that year.

December 1, 2020 - 11:40 am - Posted in News

Washington, D.C. — Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says he’s been cleared by his doctors to return to work after being in quarantine following a positive COVID test earlier this month.

Grassley, who is 87, says “the disease affects people differently,” and he did not experience any symptoms. He took a COVID test after learning he had been exposed to someone else who tested positive for the virus.

In a written statement, Grassley cited “positive…news” about a COVID vaccine, but said he’ll continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing and he urged Americans to remain vigilant in protecting themselves and others from the virus.

Iowa’s senior senator also said Congress “must do its part and pass long overdue relief legislation to help families, businesses and communities get through this crisis.”

November 30, 2020 - 4:33 pm - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa — The Orange City Fire Department got called out a couple of times this weekend. And if there were a lesson to be learned from both calls, it would probably be, “Be careful!”

Orange City Fire Chief Denny Vander Wel reports the first call was on Friday afternoon about ten minutes before two p.m. He says they were called to the report of a car fire at the Pizza Ranch in Orange City. He tells us as it turned out, there were people there who were trying to jumpstart a car and they had the jumper cables crossed with the red and black switched on one of the batteries. According to Vander Wel it caused some burnt wiring and burned one of the bumpers a little, but there was no real fire.

On Saturday, at about 11:30 p.m., they were called out again, this time for a dumpster fire behind Stegenga Hall on the northwest part of the Northwestern College campus. Vander Wel says someone apparently put something hot in the dumpster, and a little fire started. He tells us it melted some plastic in the dumpster but did not damage the dumpster’s plastic lids. According to Vander Wel they extinguished it with water and were on their way in probably less than half an hour.