Adam Wilson / Unsplash

A new report by the non-profit Trust for America’s health found that drug-related deaths rates in Iowa decreased by 15 percent while alcohol-related deaths decreased by 4 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Michael Leland / Iowa Public Radio

The state has allowed more Iowa businesses, organizations and parks to reopen. Iowans continue to adapt to the new normal, acknowledging that coronavirus is here with us, and resuming more community activities. 

Continue to follow the latest Iowa coronavirus news here, where we're posting news updates from Gov. Kim Reynolds, other state agencies, counties and businesses for the week of May 24-May 30.

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Studies have found the rates of mental illness and suicide are higher for farmers. The profession requires long hours, limited social contact and is often at the mercy of external factors such as weather and market rates. Now the COVID-19 pandemic has farmers facing unprecedented challenges, and this has some worried about a mental health crisis in this community.

Huy Phan/Unsplash

COVID-19 has killed close to 90,000 Americans, about 80% of whom are people 65-years-old or older. For many older people, it’s a scary time, a sad time and it’s easy to become isolated. 

Charlie Neibergall, Pool / AP Photo

Gov. Kim Reynolds said now that Test Iowa’s equipment has been validated, the state will soon be able to process 5,000 COVID-19 tests a day.

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Olivia Sun / The Des Moines Register via AP, pool

On Friday, Gov. Kim Reynolds will continue to reopen parts of the economy that were closed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On May 1, restaurants in 77 Iowa counties were allowed to partially reopen. Now, restaurants in all 99 counties can open their doors to a limited number of customers. So can salons, tattoo parlors and barber shops across the state that have been closed since late March.

Evelien Noens via flickr creative commons /

As Gov. Kim Reynolds continues to reopen parts of the state’s economy, she’s touting Iowa’s resources for coronavirus testing. But among those still struggling to get tested are dentists, who were able to start reopening their practices as of last week.

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AP Photo/LM Otero

A group of infectious disease experts from the University of Iowa believes social distancing measures could be relaxed sooner if everyone wears a clear plastic face shield.

Dr. Michael Edmond is chief quality officer and an infectious diseases professor at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He said he is working on modeling studies to determine whether universal face shield use could allow the country to safely reopen more quickly.

Tai's Captures / Unsplash

To wear or not wear a mask – that is the question during this pandemic.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by psychologist Alison Phillips, of Iowa State University, to explore the psychological and sociological dimensions of donning a face mask.

novel coronavirus
Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

More than two weeks since coronavirus testing started through the Test Iowa initiative, the state is not relying on new equipment from that program to report out test results.

Six drive-thru sites have opened under the Test Iowa program, with a seventh planned for Ottumwa, but the State Hygienic Lab has not yet validated the equipment that is supposed to boost the state’s capacity for processing those tests.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, pool

Gov. Kim Reynolds said at a press conference Monday that she will follow a modified quarantine plan after a member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Michael Leland / Iowa Public Radio

In many Iowa counties, businesses and organizations are now deciding when and how to reopen. Summer festivals and events organizations are making decisions around whether or how they will operate, and Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced that she is "shifting focus" of Iowa's coronavirus response.

However, reviews of testing and contact tracing capacity by NPR show that Iowa has not met the thresholds recommended by health experts to safely relax restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus. 

Follow the latest Iowa coronavirus news here, where we're posting news updates from Gov. Kim Reynolds, other state agencies, counties and businesses for the week of May 10-May 16.

Courtesy of Oxfam America

Black Hawk County officials say more than a thousand employees of the Tyson plant in Waterloo have tested positive for the coronavirus. That’s more than double the total that state officials reported earlier this week. The announcement comes the same day the company resumed limited operations at its pork plant in Waterloo, which was idled for two weeks following public outcry.

Guilherme Cunha / Unsplash

As Gov. Kim Reynolds has started to ease restrictions across parts of the state, some rural counties have seen an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases, making some local officials concerned about reopening.

Markus Spiske/Unsplash

Many childcare centers across the state have been forced to shut their doors because of COVID-19. For those who are still open, declining enrollment numbers, staff layoffs and difficulties in acquiring and affording necessary supplies has left providers facing tough decisions about the future of their childcare businesses, just as some Iowans begin returning to work.

Jack Cohen / Unsplash

Summer is just around the corner and this year it comes with a great deal of uncertainty. As businesses begin to reopen, how do you decide what level of risk you’re comfortable with?

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe is joined by Dr. Rossana Rossa, an infectious diseases specialist, to discuss how Iowans are going to have to make hard choices about whether to partake in recreational activities over the coming months.

Kenny Lab at Kabara Cancer Research Institute /

Analyzing the genetic code of the new coronavirus is giving researchers a new way to track the virus, as it spreads and mutates over time. The approach can help fill in the gaps of traditional “boots on the ground” epidemiology, which relies on case investigation and contact tracing.

Alex Boyd / Unsplash

Some nursing homes in the state are facing a rash of COVID-19 cases within their facilities, and they’ve closed their doors to visitors. This includes visits by family members. 

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer and his guests discuss how nursing home residents are missing the extra care usually provided by someone in their family, why the virus thrives in these facilities, and what might be done to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  


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John Pemble/IPR file

The $26 million that Iowans are paying for the Test Iowa program administered by Nomi Health does not include the cost of staffing the coronavirus testing sites. The state has separate contracts with local hospitals to administer the coronavirus tests, a spokesman for Gov. Kim Reynolds confirmed to IPR.

Sydney Sims / Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic may be presenting more obstacles for victims of domestic violence to get help.

novel coronavirus
Courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

University of Iowa public health experts submitted a report to state leaders recommending they keep social distancing measures in place days before the governor announced she will allow religious services and some businesses to start back up.

Madeleine King/IPR file

As Gov. Kim Reynolds takes steps to re-open parts of the state, confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Black Hawk County continue to spike. Local public health officials said that as of Monday, the county had 1,346* documented cases, accounting for more an a fifth of Iowa’s total cases.

stu_spivack / Flickr

*This program originally aired on March 6, 2018.

The human brain has substantially different dietary needs than other organs, and new research suggests that diet may play a large role in the development of dementia, obesity, and even ability to sleep.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with neuroscientist and nutritionist Lisa Mosconi, whose new book, Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power, explains how diet affects brain power and health.

martin/ x1klima / Flickr

Incarcerated Iowans are voicing fears that the new coronavirus may “run like a wildfire” through the state’s correctional facilities. Statements from individuals currently held in Iowa prisons that were shared with Iowa Public Radio raise concerns about the Iowa Department of Correction’s ability to control the spread of the virus, at a time when confirmed case numbers are ticking up and testing remains limited. Some Iowans serving time warn that widespread outbreaks of the disease could lead to “panicking” and a critical breakdown in the “social adhesive” that makes life behind bars possible.

Allie Smith / Unsplash

Under normal circumstances, a cancer diagnosis can be life altering. But with cases of COVID-19 straining medical systems across the state and with new expectations for social distancing in place, the way in which cancer treatment is received and supported is creating new challenges for some Iowans.

Grinnell Regional Medical Center

Grinnell Regional Medical Center is in Poweshiek County, which has just over a dozen confirmed cases of COVID-19. But it’s also directly south of Tama County, which has no hospital and more than 200 confirmed cases from outbreaks at a long term care facility and meat packing plant. 

Grant Gerlock / IPR file

The Black Hawk County Board of Health is formally calling for the temporary closure of the Tyson meat processing plant in Waterloo. Local public health officials say an outbreak at the facility has led to soaring increases in cases of the new coronavirus. At an emergency meeting Tuesday, board members approved a resolution, saying that current conditions “will exacerbate — rapidly — the infection of its employees, their households, and the communities in which they reside." The board is urging the company and Gov. Kim Reynolds to take action to protect Tyson workers.

Courtesy of Larry Potter

After two weeks of hospitalization, Larry Potter became the first Iowan diagnosed with COVID-19 to be released from Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids after spending time on a ventilator.

Courtesy of Oxfam America

For years, refugees who have survived political persecution, hunger and war in Latin America, Southeast Asia and East and Central Africa have come to Iowa to build a new life. After raising their children in camps, some have been able to buy homes and climb their way into the American middle class, a college education for their kids no longer an unthinkable fantasy. For many, this became possible because of the steady work and the higher than minimum wages at the state’s meat processing plants and manufacturing facilities. Now some of those places are becoming hotspots of COVID-19, as the highly contagious virus tears through production lines where advocates say stringent social distancing is not possible.

Jack Sharp/Unsplash

Social distancing and self-isolation are the new normal under the COVID-19 pandemic, and this reality is changing every fiber of society, including the way substance abuse support is handled and administered.