Iowa

Photo by Coburn Dukehart /Wisconsin Watch.

One by one, COVID-19 outbreaks popped up in April and May at meatpacking plants across the country, fanning fears that the infectious coronavirus could spread rapidly into rural states. Plants closed temporarily in small metro areas such as Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Waterloo, Iowa, and in smaller towns like Iowa’s Columbus Junction and Perry

Photo by SJ Obijo / CCO Unsplash / https://unsplash.com/photos/K2Eb0BV4Jgk

Now that summer is over and temperatures are dipping across the Midwest, people are headed indoors, some experts fear the already striking rise in cases is the beginning of another wave of COVID-19.

“I think that as fall moves forward ... what we're seeing right now is kind of a preview of what we can expect, as we even see colder temperatures come,” says Brian Dixon, director of public health informatics at the Indianapolis-based Regenstrief Institute. 

Natalie Krebs / Side Effects Public Media

There’s a lot of COVID-19 data available through state and federal resources. But those numbers can be confusing or raise questions. That’s inspired some people to do their own data-tracking.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

How Natural Disasters Are Driving A Mental Health Crisis

Aug 25, 2020
Illustration by Joanna Eberts.

Barbara Herndon lay in the center of her bed, muscles tensed, eyes on the television. She was waiting for the storm.

All morning on that day in late May, the news had covered the cold front slouching south from central Texas. By late afternoon, dense ropes of clouds darkened her Houston neighborhood. Rain whipped the windows. Cyclone-force gusts rent open her backyard breaker box. She cringed at the noises, chest tightening, mind on the havoc that might follow — but ultimately didn’t.

Photo contributed by Sharon Stewart.

Floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters can devastate a town in just a few hours. But the impact on residents can linger for years in the form of anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. 

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.

Ben Wicks / Unsplash

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.

Spencer Pugh / Unsplash

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: 

DarkoStojanovic / Pixabay CCO

Nationwide, supplies of personal protective equipment, including masks, N95 respirators and gowns,  are in short supply. Hospitals are soliciting donations and some people are crafting supplies themselves. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that as a last resort masks should be reused or providers could use scarves. 

Here’s more from the Midwest:

Photo by slavoljubovski / Pixabay CC0

With states such as Indiana and Michigan adding “stay-at-home” orders on Monday, millions of Americans are significantly restricting their lifestyles to slow the coronavirus. Nationwide, there are over 40,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including the head of a large Indiana hospital chain, and the spread doesn’t appear to be slowing.

jackmac34 / pixabay CCO

The coronavirus death toll in Europe has overtaken China's. Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to send mixed signals: Yesterday, President Trump announced the Food and Drug Administration approved a treatment for COVID-19, shortly after the agency said that was not the case. In the Midwest, case counts continue to rise, as experts say community spread is happening.

Pixabay/zukunftssicherer CCO

Coronavirus cases continue to climb throughout the Midwest, and American’s routines have been significantly disrupted amid the pandemic. President Trump invoked a war-time era law to ramp up production of essential supplies, and some experts and government officials are warning this could be the new normal for as long as 18 months. 

Latest Coronavirus News, Wednesday, March 18

Mar 18, 2020
Madeleine King, Iowa Public Radio

Cancellations continued to rise across the Midwest, as more states took aim at gyms, theaters, hair salons and other places where people gather. The coronavirus also was interfering with planned elections, including the Ohio presidential primary, which is being rescheduled.

Courtesy of Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby was postponed and many other events in the Midwest were canceled, as officials tried to stem the spread of coronavirus. Indiana and Kentucky saw their first fatalities this week, as the number and severity of coronavirus cases continues to rise in the Midwest. Here's a state-by-state summary of the news:

Illinois

Photo by Lauren Chapman/Indiana Public Broadcasting.

Events across the country continue to be cancelled, many schools are closing and the stock market is being shaken dramatically. Now, many public health experts are criticizing the lack of available testing to determine if someone is infected with coronavirus. Here’s the latest news from the Midwest: 

jarmoluk/Pixabay Creative Commons

It’s official: The World Health Organization says COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, is a pandemic. Government and industry leaders are moving to cancel events and stem the flow of the disease, even though some experts say it is too late. President Donald Trump announced a travel ban from European countries last night. The NBA has suspended its season and the NCAA will play tournament games -- including some scheduled for Indianapolis -- without fans. 

Pages