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NEWS 11.3.21: Childcare Assistance, C19 Number/Vaccine Update, and More

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Governor Kim Reynolds announced today she’ll give 200-million dollars of federal pandemic relief funding to child care centers that lost money because of the pandemic. The applications aren’t open yet.

Reynolds also announced the release of recommendations from her Child Care Task Force as part of her effort to address the state’s workforce shortage. She announced several new programs aimed at improving child care access and says she’ll ask the legislature to act, too.

Reynolds says she’ll “be looking at” child care provider wages but didn’t promise that her proposals would raise them.

The state of Iowa has passed another grim milestone this week as more than 7 thousand Iowans have now been confirmed to have died from COVID-19

In the past week, an additional 104 Iowans were confirmed to have died from COVID-19. This marks the third week in a row more than 100 deaths from the virus were confirmed in one week.

State health officials are reporting more than 76 hundred new COVID-19 infections have been confirmed in the past week.

That’s as the state’s 14-day test positivity rate continues to hover around 8 percent up slightly from a week ago. Woodbury County’s level is almost 12% with 268 new tests.

21 percent of the new confirmed infections were in children 17 and under.

SDH C19 update 11.3.21
Siouxland District Health

The number of Iowans hospitalized with the virus continues to trend downward, dipping below 500 for the first time in two months. There are 32 hospitalizations in Sioux City a level similar to last week. Half are battling COVID-19 only

483 Iowans are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s a drop from last week’s number of 531.

Iowa was preparing to launch the pediatric COVID-19 vaccine even before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave its final approval on Tuesday. That's according to a story from the Iowa Capital Dispatch.

A CDC advisory panel recommended the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday for children ages 5 to 11. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky signed off, making kids across the U.S. eligible for the shots.

The Iowa Department of Public Health estimates there are 284,000 children in the state who are now eligible for the vaccine. IDPH spokesperson Sarah Ekstrand said Tuesday that Iowa will receive an initial shipment of 99,000 doses by Thursday.

Like the adult version of Pfizer, the pediatric vaccine will require two doses. IDPH will be able to order weekly allocations to meet the demand.

Ekstrand anticipates that most children will receive the vaccine from a pediatrician or health center.

“Families should call their children’s vaccine provider (pediatrician, family medical clinic or local public health) and inquire about scheduling an appointment to have their children vaccinated,” Ekstrand wrote in an email to the Capital Dispatch.

Representatives for Hy-Vee and Walgreens said Tuesday that they are also prepared to offer the vaccine to children, pending CDC approval.

Hy-Vee will offer the pediatric vaccine by appointment only, said spokesperson Christina Gayman. Kids must have parental consent to receive the shots, and a parent or guardian must accompany them to the appointment.

Walgreens did not offer specific details about how the pediatric vaccine would be distributed in Iowa, but a corporate spokesperson confirmed that the pharmacies will offer the Pfizer vaccine to children nationwide.

Siouxland District Health has not received pediatric doses of the vaccine yet. A news release issued today says 4,500 doses are expected to arrive this week and will go to medical providers and pharmacies. The vaccine is expected to be widely available and plentiful in the community.

Now that children ages 5 and older will soon be able to get COVID-19 vaccines, public school officials in Omaha plan to revisit the district’s mask policy in January. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Cheryl Logan said the review will be made in consultation with the Douglas County Health Department, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. OPS has required all students and staff to wear masks while inside the district’s school buildings since the start of the school year.

Deer across Iowa are contracting coronavirus, and experts have said it's spreading like wildfire.

Experts at Iowa State University tell KCCI Television in Des Moines nearly 80% of deer in their sample tested positive for coronavirus. The good news is that it can't be passed to humans from animals.

Researchers found COVID-19 antibodies in deerskin samples which led them to the discovery.

Deer hunting season is already underway. Officials say the deer is safe to eat.

If you're harvesting the animal, the DNR suggests using extra caution like wearing gloves or a mask.

Two veterans and one political newcomer were elected to the Sioux City Council on Tuesday. Voters picked incumbents Dan Moore, and Alex Watters. They will be joined by Matthew O’Kane. Moore was top vote-getter with 31% or almost 4,500 votes. (O’Kane beat Ike Rayford by a margin of 66 ballots).

The current president of the Sioux City Community School Board, Perla Alarcon-Flory won another term in office. Retired teachers Bob Michaelson and Jan George will also serve after voters picked them out of a field of nine candidates. Michaelson picked up the most votes with 21% of support. Board members Jeremy Saint and Ron Colling decided against running for a second term in office.

Voters in the Sergeant Bluff-Luton school district once again turned down a plan to improve school facilities. The $12 million plan lost by 30 votes. This was the fifth time a ballot measure failed to gain support.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds set a special election for the Iowa Senator District 1 seat that covers located in Clay, Dickinson, Lyon, Osceola, and Palo Alto counties. The election will take place on December 14th following the resignation of Senator Zach Whiting.

Whiting is leaving to work at the Texas Public Policy Foundation which is a conservative think tank.

Neal Smith, a World War II bomber pilot who became a successful lawyer before representing Iowa for 36 years in Congress, has died. He was 101. Smith was first elected in 1958 and remained until 1995, a tenure that made him Iowa’s long-serving U.S. House member. Smith was known as a quiet but effective leader whose greatest accomplishments revolved around the approval of federal funding for dams and reservoirs that safeguarded cities from flooding and created much-used lakes for recreation.

Jean Rounds, the wife of Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, has died in hospice care. She was 65. Jean Rounds had been undergoing treatment for cancer since May of 2019. Doctors initially found a malignant, aggressive tumor near her sciatic nerve and she underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy and surgery. But Mike Rounds said in September of 2020 that doctors later found another tumor during a checkup. Mike Rounds, who formerly served as South Dakota’s governor, won a second Senate term last year.

The sheriff who responded to the scene of a fatal car crash caused by the South Dakota attorney general last year has died. The Hyde County Sheriff's Office declined to release further details about the death of Sheriff Mike Volek, but said it planned to release a statement, KELO-TV reported. Volek was 69. He had served as sheriff for 22 years. Volek responded to Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s 911 call late on Sept. 12, 2020. At the time, Ravnsborg said he thought he hit an animal along a rural stretch of highway near Highmore. Ravnsborg pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor charges in August.

Attorneys for Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska have asked a judge to dismiss federal charges accusing him of lying to FBI agents who were investigating illegal campaign contributions. Attorney John Littrell argued in a court filing Tuesday that the charges were incorrectly filed in California because the nine-term congressmen spoke to federal agents once in Nebraska and once in Washington, D.C. Prosecutors say Fortenberry’s statements affected their California-based investigation into illegal donations. Fortenberry received the illegal contributions from a Nigerian billionaire, Gilbert Chagoury, using a middleman at a 2016 fundraiser in Los Angeles. Fortenberry has said he was misled and that he didn’t know the campaign contribution originated with Chagoury.

With a photo posted on social media, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds unofficially announced she is now a resident of Madison County. Reynolds posted the photo of her feeding her ballot into a voting machine and noted she had voted Tuesday morning in Madison County. It was the first word that Reynolds had moved from neighboring Clarke County, where she served as county treasurer and state senator before then-Gov. Terry Branstad chose her to run as lieutenant governor with him. Spokesman Alex Murphy later confirmed Reynolds and her husband purchased property in Madison County, about 30 miles southwest of Des Moines.

News release from Morningside University:

Morningside University announces three finalists for president

Sioux City, Iowa – Morningside University has named three finalists in the search for its next president. The candidates are Dr. Jim Burkee, Dr. Elizabeth Frombgen, and Dr. Albert Mosley.

The candidates were recommended by a search committee chaired by Craig Struve ’70 and comprised of current and former members of the Morningside University Board of Directors, a student, faculty, staff, and alumni. AGB Search has assisted with the search. The candidates are scheduled to make in-person visits to campus and Sioux City between Monday, Nov. 8 and Tuesday, Nov. 16. Opportunities will be available for the Morningside and local community to meet each of the candidates and offer feedback. Details for each visit are available at morningside.edu/about/president-search.

Jim Burkee, Ph.D., has served the College of Mount Saint Vincent since November 2019. He currently serves as the vice president for strategic initiatives and previously worked as the vice president for enterprise programs and dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. Burkee served Concordia College New York from 2013 – 2019 as executive vice president/executive dean, vice provost of graduate and online education, and as a professor of history; Concordia University Wisconsin from 2004 – 2012 as an associate professor of history; Concordia College – New York from 2000 – 2004 as an assistant professor of history; and Northwestern University from 1997 – 2000 as a teaching assistant in the department of history. He also has experience outside of higher education with ATC Travel Management, LLC, where he served from 2011 – 2013 as owner, managing partner, and chief operating officer. Burkee holds bachelor’s degrees from Concordia University Wisconsin, a teacher certification from Concordia College – New York, and a master’s and doctorate from Northwestern University. He will be on campus for interviews Nov. 8 – 9, 2021, with a coffee and open forum for alumni and Siouxland community members to be held Nov. 9, 2021, from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. at the South Sioux City Marriott Riverfront.

Elizabeth Frombgen, Ph.D., has served Thiel College since 2017 as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college. Previously, she served Hastings College from 2012 – 2017 as the associate vice president for academic affairs. From 2002 – 2012 at Hastings College, Frombgen held the roles of professor of political science, associate professor of political science, and assistant professor of political science. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University, and a master’s and doctorate degree from Purdue University. She will be on campus for interviews Nov. 15 – 16, with a coffee and open forum for alumni and Siouxland community members to be held Nov. 16, 2021, from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. at the South Sioux City Marriott Riverfront.

Albert D. Mosley, D.D., Ed.D., has served Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare since 2018 as the senior vice president and chief mission integration officer. Previously, he served Bethune-Cookman University from 2013 – 2018 as executive vice president and chief operating officer and as a strategic planning and executive leadership consultant; Gammon Theological Seminary from 2011 – 2017 as president; The Johns Hopkins University from 2009 – 2011 as university chaplain and director of the Interfaith & Community Service Center; The United Methodist Church from 2002 – 2009 as senior pastor and chief executive officer of the Janes Church & Educational Foundation, Inc.; and Duke University from 2000 – 2002 as assistant dean and director of religious life. Mosley holds a bachelor’s degree from Millsaps College, master’s degrees from Duke University and Yale University, a Doctor of Divinity from Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Education from the University of Georgia. He will be on campus for interviews Nov. 10 – 11, 2021, with a coffee and open forum for alumni and Siouxland community members to be held Nov. 11, 2021, from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. at the South Sioux City Marriott Riverfront.

The Morningside University Board of Directors is expected to convene a special meeting in the weeks following the visits to consider the feedback received from the search committee and during the campus visits, then appoint the thirteenth president of Morningside University. The anticipated start date of the new president is July 1, 2022.

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