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News and resources regarding COVID-19

NEWS 8.9.21: Return-to-Learn Meeting, Vaccination Clinic, Doctors for Masks, and More

Dakota County Health Department

Tonight, the Sioux City Community School Board meets to discuss the district’s Return-to-Learn plan and Pandemic relief funding.

Students started last school year with a hybrid model of learning with two days in the classroom. That continued for a few weeks and again after the winter break.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

The third round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency money or ESSER includes $38 million dollars. Board member Dan Greenwell sent a statement to Siouxland Public Media saying in part asking the board to approve expenditures with no prior preview is not a sound governance practice and is financially irresponsible.

The Sioux City School District released a response to Siouxland Public Media surrounding Greenwell’s concerns. It says “ESSER budget information as well as the Sioux City Community School District’s proposed plan for ESSER III funding is included in the school board packet which was distributed to the District’s Board of Education and made available to the general public on Friday, August 6. Over the last several weeks, the District has conducted many productive conversations and surveyed the school board, staff, and District families regarding their feedback on allocation of ESSER III funds. We look forward to tonight’s school board discussion regarding our ESSER III plan and its impact on safe learning environments and high quality education for our students.”

Listen for coverage tomorrow on Siouxland Public Media.

The Dakota County Health Department has planned a vaccination clinic tomorrow at the South Sioux City High School. The school district is hosting an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. All three COVID-19 vaccines will be offered at that time free of cost: Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Pfizer. No appointment is needed. However, parental consent is needed for anyone 12 to 18 years old. School starts on Wednesday and Thursday for students in the South Sioux City School District.

Meanwhile, the Dakota County Health Department reports 38 new positive test results in two weeks with a positivity rate of more than 6.6%. There have been 82 deaths during the Pandemic and more than 4,200 positive tests.

Currently in Woodbury County the 7-day positivity rate is 9% with 122 tests. That is higher than the state level of 7.6%.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A group of Nebraska doctors who are also moms is urging schools to consider requiring masks this fall as the number of virus cases surges across the state.  Dr. Christine Mitchell, an Omaha-area internal medicine specialist who is involved in the effort, said policies need to change with the pandemic to help keep schools open. Nebraska virus cases have been increasing for six straight weeks as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread. Over the past two weeks, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has more than doubled in Nebraska to 374.14 new cases per day. 

A public meeting is scheduled tomorrow to address homelessness in Sioux City. The gathering at City Hall scheduled for 1:15 p.m. comes after a protest at last Monday’s City Council Meeting. A group of citizens and local advocates protested the removal of a homeless camp near 4th and Wesley Way.

The information gathered will be shared with the Inclusive Sioux City Advisory Committee who will then provide recommendations to the City Council on ways to improve current practices.

News release from the City of Sioux City:

Public Input Session Regarding Homelessness

and Transient Camps

              The City of Sioux City will host a public meeting to share information and gather suggestions on services provided to the homeless population and ways to improve the current procedures in place when the cleanup or removal of transient camps becomes necessary. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 10 at 1:15pm in City Hall Council Chambers, 405 6th Street.

Local organizations serving the homeless population will provide an overview of services followed by time dedicated to idea generation. Several City Council members will be present.

The information gathered will be shared with the Inclusive Sioux City Advisory Committee who will then provide recommendations to the City Council on ways to improve current practices.

The South Dakota Board of Educational Standards will hold four public hearings on the state’s proposed new social studies standards.  The board will hold the first hearing Sept. 20 in Aberdeen. The other three will be later in the school year in Sioux Falls, Pierre, and Rapid City. The board will take final action at the last of these meetings next spring. The board is also taking written comments. Educators would teach to the new standards in the 2023-24 school year. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports the work is part of a regular review by the state Department of Education.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A coalition of Nebraska advocacy groups and state senators have announced a new ballot drive to raise Nebraska’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. That would be an increase from the current $9 an hour that voters approved through a similar ballot initiative in 2014. Raise the Wage Nebraska said the move would benefit communities across the state. If enough signatures are gathered, the issue would appear on the 2022 general election ballot. Monday's announcement comes after a proposal in the Legislature to set the wage at $20 an hour by 2032 stalled this year. 

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) — Yankton police say the upward trend of domestic incident calls reported in the middle of COVID-19 lockdowns last year is continuing to manifest itself in 2021. Police Chief Jason Foote says Yankton police answered a total of 292 domestics in 2020, up more than 50 from the year before and something he believes “could be due to issues associated with COVID.” Midway through this year, the city has fielded 180 such calls. The Yankton Press and Dakotan reports that the police department continues to work with its community partners such as the River City Domestic Violence Center to help tackle the problem. He says the number of cases being referred to the state's attorney's office is trending downward.

VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) — The mayor of the city that’s home to the University of South Dakota says the state needs to publish COVID-19 data more than once a week. Vermillion Mayor Kelsey Collier-Wise says virus numbers from the South Dakota Department of Health are especially crucial as the city prepares for an influx of college students. Collier-Wise says there are no specific COVID-19 regulations at the University of South Dakota, such as mandated vaccinations. South Dakota Public Broadcasting reports that Collier-Wise is anticipating 5,000 to 7,000 students moving to Vermillion this fall.

Law enforcement officials say the first few days of this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally have been among the busiest they’ve seen. Some 700,000 people are expected to celebrate their enthusiasm for motorcycles at the 10-day event that kicked off Friday. Law enforcement in Sturgis and Meade County say their calls for service during the first few days are up dramatically compared to previous years. Sturgis Police Chief Geody VanDewater says officers have issued 207 violations for open containers of alcohol since the rally began. Participants need a special souvenir cup to drink wine and beer in certain downtown areas.

The Iowa State Fair returns Thursday, one year after it was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. But local health officials say they’re concerned crowded exhibit halls could help spread the highly-contagious delta variant.

Fair manager and CEO Gary Slater says dozens of sanitizing stations have been added to the fairgrounds.

He says numbers in buildings will not be limited, but masks will be recommended for everyone indoors, according to CDC guidelines.

“If you’re unvaccinated and you need to wear your mask you certainly can. They’re not required but certainly encouraged. And of course, vaccinated folks you know it’s kind of up to them if they choose to wear a mask or not.”

Hy-Vee will hold a coronavirus vaccination clinic throughout the fair near the main gates.

The 11-day State Fair is the biggest event of the year in Iowa, often drawing more than 100,000 visitors per day.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are coming to Nebraska for Gov. Pete Ricketts’ annual steak fry next month. The high-profile Republicans will appear at the gathering to celebrate agriculture on Sept. 12 in Nebraska City. All three are viewed as potential 2024 presidential candidates. DeSantis has recently pushed to curb mask mandates in schools despite the spread of the highly infectious Delta coronavirus variant. His policies have created tension with the White House and Democratic President Joe Biden. The governor’s steak fry will take place at Arbor Lodge Historical Park.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska state senator and former city council member from Bellevue is weighing a bid for governor. Sen. Carol Blood unveiled a new campaign website Monday where she’s taking donations and describing herself as a level-headed public servant with a record of governing. If she commits to running, Blood would be the first Democratic candidate to declare a bid for governor. She’s seeking to replace Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is term-limited, in a state dominated by the GOP. Blood was elected to the Nebraska Legislature in 2016, defeating a Republican incumbent in a politically divided Sarpy County district. She was re-elected to the seat in 2020, overcoming a GOP challenger in the officially nonpartisan election.

* Newscast information includes content from the Associated Press and IPR.