Iowa

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.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on children’s mental health across the country. Advocates are trying to address the problem, but resources can be limited, and in Iowa, plans for a statewide mental health system for children have run into problems.

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Studies have found the rates of mental illness and suicide are higher for farmers. They work long hours, have limited social contact and are at the mercy of factors such as weather. Now the COVID-19 pandemic is creating even greater challenges to their livelihood—and mental health. 

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.

Update: As the case count continues to rise, information on this story is moving quickly and may be out-of-date. We recommend checking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for ways to stay safe and this John Hopkins tool for the most recent data

States are considering how, and when, to reopen their economies. But the process looks different across the country, and there's a considerable variety even in the Midwest. Side Effects Public Media’s Brittani Howell spoke with Indiana Public Broadcasting’s statehouse reporter Brandon Smith, KBIA health reporter Sebastián Martínez Valdivia and Iowa Public Radio health reporter Natalie Krebs about how their states have reacted so far, and what they might do going forward.

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. 

Lindsey Moon / Side Effects Public Media

Iowa is among the states with the fewest COVID-19 cases, but it still has over 175 confirmed cases and the total increases every day. The state’s hospitals, large and small, face a common problem as they get ready for a possible spike in patients: finding enough equipment.

leo2014/Pixabay (CC0)

As the U.S. economy has slowed due to the coronavirus threat, 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment only weeks after an especially robust job market. These numbers are significantly worse than previous downturns, even in the aftermath of the 2008 market crash. Meanwhile, in the Midwest, hospitals and healthcare workers prepared for a spike in cases by scrambling for masks, ventilators and other equipment.

Here’s more news from the Midwest: 

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