Iowa's COVID-19 fatalities surpass eighth leading annual cause of death

At least 702 Iowans have died from novel coronavirus infections, according to the state’s official website at midday on June 26. Less than four months since the state recorded its first case, the death toll from COVID-19 alone is higher than the number of Iowans who have died in any recent year of flu or pneumonia, which has been the state’s eighth leading cause of death. Those fatalities occurred despite social distancing and other unusual precautions like restricted nursing home visits since March.

Statistics archived by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicate that 697 Iowans died of flu or pneumonia in 2018, reflecting a worse than usual flu season. Iowa deaths in that category numbered 582 in 2014, 618 in 2015, 504 in 2016, and 578 in 2017.

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Des Moines hiring practices don't reflect community's diversity

Joe Henry is a community activist who served on the Des Moines Civil Service Commission from 2013 to 2020. -promoted by Laura Belin

The City of Des Moines’ hiring practices do not reflect the diversity of our community.

Nearly 90 percent of the city’s police department employees (472 total) are white. Only 57 officers are Black or Brown. In addition, the majority of police officers do not live in the city and have never lived here!

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Iowa OSHA visits two more meatpackers; other plants cleared with no inspection

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) staff conducted on-site inspections of two more Iowa meatpacking plants this week, the Iowa Division of Labor confirmed to Bleeding Heartland on June 2.

Documents provided the following day show regulators closed at least four coronavirus-related complaints against Iowa pork processors with no inspection.

Inspectors toured the Tyson Foods turkey plant in Storm Lake and the Perdue Premium pork facility in Sioux Center on June 1. Both site visits stemmed from “media referrals” rather than complaints, meaning officials acted on unspecified news reports or information relayed to OSHA by a journalistic source.

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More people of color running for Iowa legislature in 2020

After a decade of little change in the racial breakdown of the Iowa House and Senate, more people of color are running for the state legislature this year.

Candidates appearing on today’s primary ballot include eight Democrats and six seven Republicans, which to my knowledge is a record for the Iowa GOP.

In addition, three people of color representing minor parties have filed as general election candidates in state legislative districts.

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OSHA inspected five Iowa meatpacking plants on site

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) staff have conducted five on-site inspections of Iowa meatpacking plans during the past six weeks, the Iowa Division of Labor confirmed to Bleeding Heartland on May 28.

According to Mary Montgomery, who works in the office of Iowa Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts, OSHA inspectors examined COVID-19 mitigation measures at the Tyson Fresh Meats pork processing plant in Waterloo on April 20, the Tyson plant in Columbus Junction on April 30, Iowa Premium Beef in Tama on May 21, the JBS pork plant in Marshalltown, also on May 21, and the Tyson plant in Perry on May 26.

Montgomery indicated that a complaint prompted the Waterloo inspection, while “media referrals” led to the others. Asked to define that term, Montgomery said either “news items reported in the media” or information relayed “directly to OSHA by a media source” had prompted the site visits. She did not specify which news reports or journalistic sources influenced OSHA staff.

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Latinos now 1 in 4 of Iowa's COVID-19 cases

Racial disparities continue to widen as the number of novel coronavirus cases grows in Iowa.

Data published on the state’s COVID-19 website on May 17 indicate that Latinos make up 25.1 percent of Iowa’s 14,651 confirmed COVID-19 cases. That’s more than four times the share of Latinos in the state population (6.2 percent according to the latest Census Bureau estimate).

Another 57.1 of Iowans who have tested positive are not Hispanic or Latino, while the remaining 17.8 percent of cases are pending further investigation of the person’s ethnicity.

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