Read stories submitted from around Dubuque about people who have made a difference during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Knowing that our Marshallese community was especially vulnerable and experiencing many positive cases already in April, MercyOne staff identified a need to ensure access to COVID-19 testing for this special population. When the state was unable to grant requests for a strike team or a TestIowa site in Dubuque, MercyOne Dubuque took the lead to organize a targeted testing program along with the Dubuque County Public Health Incident Management Team, Medical Associates, Grand River Medical Group, Crescent Community, UnityPoint Finley, and the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA). In the parking garage of the Grand
River Center, 325 individuals who were identified as at-risk of exposure through contact tracing were tested over a three-day period, May 6 – 8.
"The testing went really well and staff felt good about the experience," said Gwen Hall Driscoll, BSN, RN, community education nurse at MercyOne Dubuque who was instrumental in organizing the community testing. "There was a lot of work before the site opened with local partners, and it was good to see the plan worked as intended and we were able to support our community members who really needed testing."
During the past few months while I have been sheltered at home, a certain young friend called me every week to check in on me. I have no family members to depend on, and I always looked forward to that call. I'm grateful for this friend for thinking of me and making me feel like I matter during a pandemic that can be frightening at times.
Radio Dubuque owns and operates 4 local radio stations. 97.3 The Rock, 92.9 KAT FM, 101.1 The River, and AM 1370 KDTH. All have live and local DJ’s on the air, every day. When cases of Covid-19 were first reported in the States, we began to really pay attention. Once the virus began to spread across the country, and numbers were increasing every day, plans were made as to how we would cover the information needed to get to
our listeners. It wasn’t until right before St. Patrick’s Day, that we knew how serious things had gotten, and that we would have to do a lot more than we had originally discussed.
Governors from all states began to issue emergencies, bars, restaurants and more were forced to close, live remotes and advertising promotions we were working on were suddenly canceled. It all seemed to be happening very quickly, and information was coming at us as fast as ever. Unfortunately, much of the information being shared was proven wrong, often before the news cycle of the day even ended. We knew we had to do something more, to educate our listeners, than simply report numbers and news stories every day. The virus is all people were talking about, so let’s give them some real, local information to share.
“Ask the Exerts” was born. I conducted interviews with “local” experts. At first, talking with doctors, and other medical employees, and kept the questions basic. How is COVID-19 transmitted? Should we wear masks? Does it live on surfaces? What is a tele-health visit? Is there an average age for those dying? What exactly are people dying of? These interviews were then broken down in to short, easy to understand segments. We played them on the air, on all of our stations throughout the day. We also created a page on our website, with all of them up for anyone to listen to, at their convenience.
The feedback from listeners was great. People were relieved to hear someone talk about Covid-19 in Dubuque. National news always seems to follow the “bad stuff”, often times only reporting stories that will scare people. But what is going on in our community? Ask the Experts stuck to Dubuque and the Tri-State area. How are we doing here? What do I need to know? We also invited listeners to submit their own questions, which many did.
As the weeks and months moved on, and daily life with Covid-19 changed, we updated our interviews, calling back many of the experts who helped us get this going. Then as businesses started to reopen, we talked with managers and employees of gas stations, bars, restaurants, grocery stores and more, to find out what their plans were to reopen. The Dubuque airport manager talked to us, about air travel. We talked with owners of bars, restaurants, campgrounds, and movie theaters. Non-essential businesses that have been lost and ignored by many. This was our opportunity to give them a voice, and let them assure the public that they will take the necessary precautions to open their business, with the public’s safety in mind.
It’s become clear that Covid-19 is going to be a part of our lives for a while, and all of us at Radio Dubuque will continue to be a calm, and educated voice for listeners of our radio stations. Live, Local, Listen.
- John Rhodes, Program Director, 97.3 The Rock
As the CEO of Hills & Dales I have been humbled by the passion and commitment our essential services staff have presented for our mission of building meaningful lives during this COVID-19 Pandemic. The children and adults we serve in 24 hour settings, autism clinics and other programs with intellectual and physical disabilities, and/or autism are some of Dubuque’s most vulnerable citizens.
One story of the many, defines and represents our work and our heroic staff over the past several months. Nathan, a young man who resides in his home with three other housemates has been supported by Hills & Dales for many years. Nathan is medically fragile and is currently on the wait list for a kidney transplant. He attends dialysis three times a week for several hours, while also enduring a recent hip replacement recovery! Nathan can struggle with change and transition but none the less he has been a real trooper through all of this.
Nathan was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was placed in isolation in his bedroom. Alan, one of Nathan’s direct support staff, stepped up and identified that he was committed to staying with Nathan in his room 24 hours a day for his complete isolation period. Additionally, Alan would remain in full personal protective equipment and transport Nathan to his dialysis treatment. What began as the typical 14-day isolation period extended when Nathan continued to test positive. Attempts by all of us to provide Alan with a break were met with Alan declaring, “Nathan and I are a team and I want to be with him when he gets that negative test!” That negative result arrived a long 36 days later, and Nathan was released from isolation! Alan remained with Nathan the entire time and through good precautions never had his own positive test. Hills & Dales is honored to have employees like Alan who recognize that each person is a valued part of our community, no matter their ability.
- Marilyn Althoff, Hills & Dales CEO
Shortly after a Telegraph Herald article came out about the Marshallese, a woman named Kate reached out to me, because she heard that I had been working with the community. She said she had been making masks for her family, and offered to make some for the Marshallese as well. I wasn't sure how many she would have, but gratefully accepted. Soon she had for me a box of dozens of masks, with different designs and sizes. We had those distributed through a Project Rooted delivery, and then a few weeks later, out of nowhere, she contacted me with dozens more. Her generosity for a group of people she didn't know was incredibly touching, and a great example of what caring neighbors Dubuquers can be!
Three ladies in Cascade - Kay Hoffman, Shellie Schlemme, and Ashley Noonan - stepped up and brought food pop ups to Cascade to assist with food scarcity needs. A high percentage of people who attended the pop ups were Hispanic.We’re so appreciative of what they’ve done!
I'd like to thank my boss at work for helping us adapt to this unfortunate situation. Through his efforts he has made work possible and we owe him a great deal of gratitude.
During the first month of the pandemic, when there was no toilet paper or masks in the stores, my coworkers really helped out my family. One of my coworkers would always check up on me and would bring care packages to make sure my family had everything we needed since my parents were essential workers and I was working from home and taking care of my 3 nieces. Another coworker also reached out to me and asked if I needed masks for my family. During that time we could not find any masks and were afraid to go outside, so my family and I were so thankful. To this day, my family and I are so appreciative of my coworkers that were willing to take a few minutes of their day to check-up on me and my family.
I am grateful that I was able to sew over 150 masks for the Dubuque Mattress Factory mask project. My husband, Eric, cut thousands (thousands) of filters at Key City Creative Center for these and also sewed masks. He also enlisted two of our missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help with the cutting of filters. It makes me thankful when I see people on the community wearing these masks to know that we were a part of helping during this time.