Evans: We should not just accept deaths like these

Twenty years ago, when the death of 2-year-old Shelby Duis outraged Iowans, I was confident the Spirit Lake tragedy would soon bring change to our state. I probably was naive. 

In 2016, when Natalie Finn, 16, was found near death in a middle-class neighborhoodin West Des Moines, I was confident that tragedy would bring change to our state. I probably was naive. Again. 

In 2017, when Sabrina Ray, 16, was found dead in her home in Perry, I was convinced the time for change was imminent. 

I probably was naive. Once again.

Health and Human Services provider relief fund allocations in Iowa as of Sept. 3, 2020

This story is part of a nationwide collaboration of Institute for Nonprofit News members examining the affect COVID-19 is having on rural health care. IowaWatch reporting in this project was made possible by support from the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems.

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 Sept. 3, 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 databases IowaWatch published May 19, June 3, June 18, June 30, July 15, Aug.

Evans: Iowa should look at another Vision Iowa

There was a milestone of note recently, and it is a shame there was not a big public celebration. Twenty years ago, Gov. Tom Vilsack and the Iowa Legislature had the foresight to create a program that has brought important changes to communities large and small across Iowa. The program was called Vision Iowa – and it certainly provided that. The initiative enabled communities to bring projects to life that probably never would have gotten off the ground without the unusual financial arrangement that was the beauty of Vision Iowa. State government provided part of the investment for these projects.

Amid protests and change, Iowa police training on implicit bias varies

In 2015, the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy lacked training on implicit bias. As a cadet there then, Natasha Greene sought discussions on her own about some of the mistaken beliefs officers might hold of others, such as expecting a black person to be dangerous or more crime prone from stereotypes, ideas that could come from television or passed from family and friends. Now an Iowa State Police Department officer, Greene said these conversations were uncomfortable, as awkward as telling someone the zipper on their pants is down but you still do it. 

“If I’m talking to somebody I care about and their fly’s down, of course I’m going to tell them their fly’s down because it would be more harmful for me to just let them carry on without knowing,” Greene said. Today those discussions are more serious and more uncomfortable as the May 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police brought the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for defunding police. Implicit bias and training officers became part of the national conversation.

Facts related to Iowa’s meatpacking industry, schools

Demographics: Iowa’s immigrant children: In 1990 only 2.4 percent of Iowa kids (17,000) were from immigrant families – by 2018 that number jumped to 12 percent (84,000). Multigenerational households: 2011 U.S. Census Survey: 2.6 percent of Iowa’s 750,000 households are multigenerational households and of those include three generations (parent, child, grandchild, ie.) and the majority identify as Hispanic (map broken down by county is on page 4 in the linked census survey). Iowa school districts: According to the Iowa Department of Education there are 330 school districts throughout the state with over 480,000 students and over 37,000 teachers. Districts with meatpacking plants have higher enrollment of Hispanic, Black and mixed race children. These populations are at higher risk of getting coronavirus.