August 1, 2019

    Opioid Deaths in Iowa Down by 33%
    Sports Betting Coming to Iowa
    Results of the 2018 Iowa Angler Survey
    Iowa Schools Receive Computer Science Awards
    Recent Fish Kills Attributed to Heat and Spills

    Opioid Deaths in Iowa Down by 33%

    Deaths due to opioids have sharply decreased in Iowa. In 2016, there were 180 opioid-related deaths in our state. This amount rose to 207 opioid-related deaths in 2017, but dropped to 133 people in 2018, which is a decrease of 33%.

    Some of the success has been credited to legislation passed in 2018 that required pharmacies to use the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) which decreased the number of opioid prescriptions and the amount prescribed. The PMP became operational in 2009 and allows authorized prescribers and pharmacists to view information about their patients’ use of controlled substances. This is a tool used in determining appropriate prescribing and treatment of patients without fear of contributing to a patient’s abuse or dependence on addictive drugs or diversion to illegal drugs.

    The bill also directed the Board of Pharmacy to issue a report to each prescribing practitioner that has the summary of the practitioner’s history of prescribing controlled substances; a comparison to other practitioner’s prescribing activities, and educational updates. This helps the Board identify patients who are at risk for potentially abusing or misusing prescription controlled substances and notify the practitioners of the risk.

    Expanded access to Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, has also had an impact on the decreasing amount of opioid-related deaths in Iowa. When family members, friends, or emergency personnel have access to this reversal drug, it gives them time to take the overdose victim to the hospital to receive life-saving care.

    Overall, Iowa has one of the lowest rates of opioid-related deaths in the country. To learn more about opioid use in Iowa, please visit https://idph.iowa.gov/substance-abuse/opioid-update.

    Sports Betting Coming to Iowa

    As the summer winds down, the state of Iowa will be gearing up for the start of a favorite past time of many, college football season. On average more than 135,000 people each weekend pack the stands of the four division one schools in Iowa to cheer on their team and starting this year they may have more than bragging rights on the line for the game.

    The Iowa Racing and Gaming commission will have sports betting available starting in the middle of August before the start of the football season. This will allow Iowans to make bets on sporting events across the country. Legalized sports wagering was passed last legislative session, and now that the administrative rules have been adopted, there will be an option for Iowans who choose this form of entertainment.

    Iowans will be allowed to bet on college and professional athletic events; however they will not be allowed to bet on an event where any of the participants are under the age of 18. They are also are not allowed to place a wager on the individual performance of an athlete, where a college or university from Iowa is involved in the contest.

    Participants will be allowed to place a wager from their phone but must first register an account with a licensed casino that offers sports betting.

    Results of the 2018 Iowa Angler Survey

    The 2018 angler survey results were released by Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to determine how often angers are fishing, what kinds of fish anglers are fishing for, where anglers are fishing and what anglers think the DNR should focus resources on. The 2018 survey asked 1,628 people their fishing habits.

    Highlights from the survey:

    • Anglers fished 10.5 million days in 2018 in Iowa
    • The median number of years the respondents have been fishing is 30 years
    • Over 80% of anglers surveyed have fished in Iowa in the past year
    • 68% of respondents said fishing in Iowa is excellent or good
    • The Mississippi River is the most popular place to fish
    • 64% of anglers surveyed fish in lakes
    • Most respondents fish for panfish or bass
    • 57% of anglers surveyed said water quality in Iowa has stayed the same or gotten worse in the last 10 years.

    About every ten years the DNR surveys a sample of Iowans who have had fishing licenses within the last three years.

    View the full survey results here.

    Iowa Schools Receive Computer Science Awards

    A total of 23 Iowa school districts and schools will be able to bolster their computer science teacher workforce due to recently announced awards. The funding is provided as part of a state appropriation of $500,000 to expand computer science education across the state.

    The Computer Science Professional Development Incentive Fund was established as part of legislation signed into law in 2017. The incentive fund drew 31 applications representing 39 public school districts and non-public schools in urban, rural, and suburban parts of the state. One application represented a team of elementary, middle, and high schools within Great Prairie Area Education Agency in southeast Iowa.

    Schools will use the incentive fund to pay for professional learning or university coursework for teaching endorsements in computer science and is an effort to provide high-quality computer science instruction in every elementary, middle, and high school. Award recipients will report on their progress by the end of the 2019-20 school year. The recipients were the following:

      Bondurant-Farrar Community School District
      Cedar Falls Community School District
      Central Decatur Community School District
      Clear Lake Community School District
      Durant Community School District
      Earlham Community School District Estherville Lincoln Central Community School District
      Great Prairie Area Education Agency (collaboration with Central Lee, North Mahaska, Cardinal, Pekin, Fort Madison K-8, Centerville, Fairfield, Waco, and Keokuk)
      Louisa-Muscatine Community School District
      Marshalltown Community School District
      Mason City Community School District
      MOC-Floyd Valley Community School District
      Spirit Lake Community School District
      Storm Lake Community School District
      Waukee Community School District

    Recent Fish Kills Attributed to Heat and Spills

    Over two recent days the DNR received reports of at least three fish kills. These fish kills illustrate the vulnerability of waters in the state when it is hot and dry. The fish kills were near Des Moines (southeast of Elkhart), west of Des Moines, and in Butler County in North Central Iowa.

    Ted Peterson with DNR said, “Any spill can be lethal to fish, crayfish, and stream insect larvae, but when stream levels are low and temperatures are high these organisms are especially vulnerable.”

    DNR took water samples at each location to try to determine the exact cause of the fish kills. Because multiple species of fish died in all three areas the DNR believes a pollutant was involved.

    If someone sees something unusual in the water that they believe may be a spill, the DNR has a 24 hour spill line that can be reached at 515-725-8694.