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Noon Newscast: IA Legislature Preview, SD Hemp, Respiratory Illness and Snow Storm


State lawmakers are heading back to the Iowa Capitol next week for the 2020 legislative session, scheduled to start Monday, Jan. 13. This session will mark the fourth consecutive year with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the governor’s office

Some of the top issues include mental health funding, voting rights for felons, child care, tax policy, Medicaid oversight and medical cannabis. .

South Dakota Governor. Kristi Noem says she won't veto legislation allowing hemp to be grown in the state. Noem announced that she won't veto a hemp bill provided it contains four “guardrails" she provided to lawmakers.  Noem made it clear she wants the crop to be tightly regulated, with government agencies providing licenses and inspections. She also wants legislators to come up with a way to pay for the hemp program. The Legislature convenes next week.

Billionaire Tom Steyer has qualified for next week's Democratic presidential debate in Iowa. He'll be on stage alongside Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. Steyer qualified by hitting polling requirements in South Carolina and Nevada, two of the early voting states.  A new Fox News poll conducted in South Carolina put Steyer at 15%, and another Fox News poll in Nevada put him at 12%. In previous early state and national polls, Steyer has mostly been in the low to mid-single digits.

The CDC reports widespread flu activity and Siouxland District Health is seeing an increase in our area.

Kristen Beal is the Infection Preventionist and Patient Safety Officer at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s.

“We went from 17% positive test rate to a, 40% test rate over the holidays and maintained that for a couple of weeks and now we’re at a 33% test rate this week.”

Beal says the hospital’s emergency room is busy treating people with the flu, with influenza B being the most common strain.  However, RSV has been more severe for people across all age groups.

She shares advice on how to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses.

“Cover your cough.  Make sure you’re doing good great hand hygiene.  Singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice is how you know you have been washing long enough.   If you don’t have soap and water readily available, use hand sanitizer.”

Beal says flu shots help as well even if it doesn’t cover the strain you might catch.

“If it’s 40% effective that means you’re 40% more protected than someone who didn’t get it.  So, I might be effective enough to keep someone out of the hospital.”    

Beal says children can be more vulnerable to respiratory illness.

“The little, little kids their airways are so much smaller when they get inflammation in those lower lungs, it can cause problems so much faster and more severe.”

Beal says if a child seems to be having any difficulty breathing seek medical help right away.

And, the eastern part of the state of Iowa is winter weather advisories and warnings through tomorrow morning. Some spots could see up to a foot of snow.  Yesterday, Iowa City saw temperatures in the 60s, this weekend they could get 5 to 8 inches of snow.