ByNatalie Krebs / Iowa Public Radio and Side Effects Public Media |
Across the Midwest, the rollout of COVID vaccines has been spotty. Lots of people are having a trouble with online signups. And vaccine demand far exceeds supply. That’s made the process challenging, especially in rural areas. For years, the Girls State Training School in central Iowa has sat mostly empty.
It may be time for lawmakers to designate an official state punctuation mark, too.
The question mark seems to be an appropriate choice — especially after the troubling news from our state in the past few weeks, news that has left many Iowans asking “why?”
Why does it seem as if state health officials do not have a well-planned strategy for vaccinating people in every nook and cranny of our state? And why have people basically been left to fend for themselves by making numerous phone calls trying to find a clinic or a pharmacy or a county health office that has appointments for the shots available?
Why does it seem as if no one in a position of responsibility has considered until the past week or two how people who do not have computers or internet access, or people who are working during the day, are supposed to make these appointments — especially when vaccination providers in some communities only allow people to sign up online? Why did our governor and our United States senators not use their close relationships with former President Donald Trump to pressure his administrators to ensure that Iowa received a comparable allotment of vaccine doses, based on population, as other states received?
This is especially vexing because the federal government’s data show Iowa ranked 47th among the 50 states last week, per-capita, in its vaccine supply. Iowa was 46th worst among the states in the proportion of its residents who have been vaccinated so far. That federal data say Iowa has administered 64 percent of its vaccine so far — a percentage that is lower than surrounding states.
Andy and Amy Jo Hellenbrand live on a little farm in south-central Wisconsin where they raise corn, soybeans, wheat, heifers, chickens, goats, bunnies, and their four children, ages 5 to 12. For the entire fall semester, the quartet of grade school students learned virtually from home, as their district elected to keep school buildings closed. That has put a strain on the family, as well as the childrens’ grades and grammar. “I definitely feel like they’re falling behind,” said Amy Jo Hellenbrand. “You just notice certain things as far as their language and how they talk.
Jewell, Iowa – At 3:20 p.m. on a Monday, a voice booms through the public address speakers at South Hamilton School. “Everybody mask up.” A reminder of how much changed this school year. The South Hamilton district — 700 pre-K through 12th-grade students from the rural towns of Ellsworth, Randall, Stanhope and Jewell in the center of Iowa — tackled challenges facing other rural schools since COVID-19 came to Iowa in March and shut down schools.
“You can’t handle the ‘what ifs,’ because there are too many of them,” said longtime activities director Todd Coy. This piece is part of a collaborative reporting project that includes the Institute for Nonprofit News, Charlottesville Tomorrow, El Paso Matters, IowaWatch, The Nevada Independent, New Mexico in Depth, Underscore News/Pamplin Media Group and Wisconsin Watch/The Badger Project. The collaboration was made possible by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.
There are some high-minded legal principles written into Iowa laws and rulings by our state’s Supreme Court. But in recent weeks, one of those sound principles has run into a few closed-minded state officials and the closed doors of government. Some officials prefer to conduct the people’s business without being bothered with having the pesky public around. This has occurred during the Iowa Board of Regents process for learning what students and employees at the University of Iowa hope to see in a new UI president. This has occurred as the Iowa Department of Public Health tapped into the advice of medical experts on what priorities should be established for access to the new coronavirus vaccines.
Despite all of the reporting, public announcements and warnings from health care professionals, community leaders and elected officials, health care workers IowaWatch spoke with as 2020 drew to a close said many people still don’t understand the severity of suffering that the people hit hardest with COVID-19 have to endure. Unless, that it, they have seen it up close, themselves, with someone they know.
Iowa hospitals lost an estimated $433 million in March through October because of COVID-19, the Iowa Hospital Association said in a report released Wednesday, Dec. 16. The association reported that the state’s hospitals have spent $1.25 billion to equip hospitals for and to care for people with the highly contagious coronavirus that has killed 3,354 Iowans and 307,076 Americans. Provider relief funds from federal government stimulus programs offset much of those costs and were included in the calculations that resulted in the loss estimate, the association reported. The projection did not include money from some federal programs, like the Paycheck Protection Program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or state funding, the association reported.
ByIowaWatch database of U.S. HHS data compiled by Lyle Muller |
Relief payments distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Health Resources and Services Administration have gone to the following Iowa health care providers, as of Dec. 4, 2020. The funds come via the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. These data show updates from previous databases IowaWatch has published. This database shows all health care provider distributions in Iowa.
The state’s hospital and nursing leaders in Iowa pleaded Tuesday with Iowans to take safety steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 as the glut of cases continued to tax their ability to help people with the virus. “We have folks new in health care and those who have been around for decades who are astounded by the amount of death and serious morbidity they are dealing with on a daily basis,” Dr. Tammy Chance, medical director of quality initiatives at Boone County Hospital, said.
ByIowaWatch database of U.S. HHS data compiled by Lyle Muller |
Relief payments distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Health Resources and Services Administration have gone to the following Iowa health care providers, as of Nov. 17, 2020. The funds come via the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. These data show updates from previous databases IowaWatch has published. This database shows all health care provider distributions in Iowa.