Seventy-six of Iowa’s 82 critical access hospitals ended the last fiscal year with negative operating margins, an IowaWatch analysis of their most recently reported financial data shows. Iowa’s situation falls in line with a national report that shows 46% of the nation’s rural hospitals are working with a negative operating margin.
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.
A record 16.6 million visitors frequented Iowa’s state parks in 2020, according to data from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Iowans turned to the outdoors with indoor activities interrupted or cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the last decade, the Iowa DNR saw between 13.7 million and 15.5 million visitors to their state parks yearly.
The system with 83 parks and forests recorded its 100th anniversary in 2020 just as the coronavirus came to Iowa in March. The Centers for Disease Control has recommended people remain six feet apart and meet outdoors to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, making spacious state parks popular destinations.
Lake Manawa in Council Bluffs topped the list with an estimated 3.2 million visitors. Next came Gull Point near Milford. Big Creek, Backbone and Walnut Woods rounded out the top five.
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.
The boss told Gus Malzahn on Sunday that he was no longer needed. His employment was ending immediately. With that blunt conversation, Malzahn became another statistic of 2020. He took his place next to the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs this year — a year when unemployment, at times, rivaled those dreadfully dark days of the Great Depression. But Malzahn is not in the same boat as most of the others.
He won’t have to be up before dawn to get into a food line.
Vicki and Matt Bruening live on a Floyd County acreage with six children ranging from a sophomore in high school to a fourth-grader. Like others in Iowa, the family makes a living in agribusiness: both Bruenings operate an agricultural repair business in New Hampton, and Matt farms with his uncle on family land nearby.
At home, the family raises goats and chickens, with the help of their kids. When COVID-19 shut down Iowa schools over the spring break season in March, farm life gave the Bruenings the benefit of staying busy — but as time progressed, the family was still concerned whether school doors would open in the fall.
“We were most worried about if they wouldn’t be able to go back at all,” Vicki Bruening said. “It’s been a different kind of school year so far, but it’s also been good to get them back in the classroom, back with their friends.”
Bruening drives her kids to school in the morning as a way to provide more time to get ready. In the afternoon while she’s at work, the family relies on school transportation from Charles City’s joint high school and middle school campus, and one of the district’s two elementary schools.
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.
CEDAR RAPIDS — Public officials rattle off COVID-19 statistics at daily news conferences: the number of new cases; numbers of negative tests; the number of deaths. As of Friday, April 3, 2020, a total of 11 Iowans had died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Senior photo of Vicki Snarzyk, courtesy Judy Fletcher
Vicki Snarzyk was one of those. “She was a beautiful soul who always put others first,” Judy Fletcher said of her 61-year-old sister, who died April 1 in Cedar Rapids. Fletcher, 54, of Denver, Colorado, wants everyone to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously, to understand the devastating implications and realize how easily it can hit home.
ByJackson Schulte/IowaWatch and The Scarlet & Black |
GRINNELL, Iowa – Some Grinnell College seniors have chosen to finish their undergraduate days by staying in town, even though the college sent most of their peers home for the rest of the school year and canceled the spring graduation ceremony because of COVID-19. They’re staying in town for a variety of reasons but mainly to continue living in homes for which they’re contractually obligated to pay rent and to make their final months as seniors feel meaningful. “My
rent here is paid, it’s sort of a sunk cost,” Pete Zelles, 22, a senior from
St. Paul, Minnesota, said. “I realized that the majority of my friends are
staying because they’re in the same position.
Grinnell College acted ahead of other colleges and universities in the state when moving students off campus and canceling spring graduation. Now, students are figuring out how to handle that when they return to classes – virtually – from spring break.