Natalie Krebs

Reporter, Iowa Public Radio

Natalie Krebs is the health reporter for Iowa Public Radio in Des Moines. She previously worked as an independent producer in west Texas where she covered issues related to the environment, immigration and health care. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

Copyright 2020 Iowa Public Radio News. To see more, visit Iowa Public Radio News.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Courtesy of Amanda Zimmerman

As some Midwest school districts open with in-person classes, school nurses face a big challenge. They play a crucial role in keeping kids safe from COVID-19. And they have to handle many other health issues. A middle school nurse in Fort Dodge, Iowa, explains how she’s preparing.

COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF IOWA HEALTH CARE MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS

Though many people who have been seriously ill from COVID-19 are older or have underlying health conditions, it’s still unclear what causes certain people to get really sick. Aquarius Bunch was a healthy 27-year-old working at an assisted living facility in the Midwest when she got COVID-19. And she was pregnant.

Courtesy of Steven Abdo

This is part of Essential Voices, a series of interviews with people confronting COVID-19.

Long term care facilities have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than half of the coronavirus deaths in Iowa have been residents at these facilities. To try to keep residents safe, most have been closed to visitors since March. Steven Abdo, a nurse aide at Oaknoll Retirement Residence in Iowa City for four years, explains what it’s like to work with residents who don’t know when they can see their families again.

Grinnell Regional Medical Center

This is part of Essential Voices, a series of interviews with people confronting COVID-19.

Hospitals across the Midwest have adjusted policies for the coronavirus crisis -- including limiting patient visitors. That can be especially hard when a patient is near death, and friends and relatives want to share a final goodbye. Dr. Lauren Graham speaks about those emotional moments at Grinnell Regional Medical Center in Iowa.

Michael Leland / Side Effects Public Media

Many of America’s rural counties have just a handful of COVID-19 cases. And health experts say that may be giving residents a false sense of security. Now, outbreaks at food processing plants could shake that complacency.

Lindsey Reed / Oaknoll Retirement Residence

The elderly are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. The country’s first big outbreak was at a nursing home in Washington state, and more recently nursing homes and senior living facilities in places like Indiana, Illinois and Iowa have had experienced dozens of cases -- and deaths. Now, these places are facing a lot of pressure to keep residents safe -- and occupied. 

Natalie Krebs / Side Effects Public Media

In many states, emergency medical services are not considered essential, like fire or police. That means when you call 911, there’s no guarantee an ambulance will respond. And this is a big problem in rural areas, where volunteers are scarce.


Natalie Krebs / Side Effects Public Media

The federal government recently raised the smoking age to 21 to help curb teen vaping.  Some are applauding the decision as a win for public health. Others worry it was a knee-jerk reaction.

An "open tank" e-cigarettes sits on the counter at Mason Odle's vape store, Just Vapor. These larger, open tank systems are exempt from FDA regulations on flavors.
Photo by Carter Barrett/Side Effects Public Media.

Just a few weeks ago, some Midwest state legislatures were aiming to raise the legal age for smoking. But Congress moved first, setting a new national age limit of 21. Now, some anti-smoking advocates say that’s not enough. 

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