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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 6.16.20: More C19 Deaths, Pence in IA and More

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Iowa Department of Public Health
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Two northwest Iowa counties each report two more deaths due to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.  Two older women between the ages of 61 and 80 passed away in Woodbury County for a total of 41 people.  There were five new cases in Woodbury County for a total of 3,015.

Health officials with Buena Vista County say two more people have died due to complications of the virus for a total of eight.  Because of privacy laws and a small population, ages and genders will not be released.

One month ago, the Buena Vista saw 75 cases. Today, it tops 1,600.  However, there were only three positive cases reported today.  Because of the outbreak, Walmart in Storm Lake will be closed for cleaning until Thursday morning.

Cases have fallen off sharply in the Sioux City metro area during the past few weeks.  The Dakota County Health Department reported one more confirmed case for a total of 1,742.  There have been 32 deaths in Dakota County.

Sioux City’s two hospitals recorded their lowest combined number of COVID-19 patients since releasing the data in early May.

In a joint statement, MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center and UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s say they’re caring for 47 COVID-19 patients. 

The two hospitals recently said they’ve served nearly 400 COVID-19 patients from more than 10 counties in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The city of Sioux City announced city hall and the lobby of the Police/Fire Headquarters will reopen Monday at 8 a.m.  Rentals for Rentals for park shelters, Anderson Dance Pavilion and Cone Park Lodge will be available on Friday, June 26 by reservation only.

Union leaders at the Smithfield meatpacking plant in Sioux Falls say hundreds of workers are still absent because of the coronavirus pandemic. Between 800 and 1,200 of the plant’s 3,700 employees are either quarantined, have tested positive for the virus or fall into a high-risk category. Those in the high-risk category were previously going to be asked to return to work June 15, but after discussions with the union that date was extended to June 29.  

Motley tells the Argus Leader Smithfield will continue to pay workers who were either quarantined or had the disease while they stay home until July 31.

The director of the Iowa Department of Public Health says he is retiring from the job as the agency he leads continues to head the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Gerd Clabaugh, who is 58, said Tuesday he is leaving on July 31 “to spend more time with family and seek new opportunities.” Clabaugh was appointed to run the state’s health department by former Gov. Terry Branstad in 2014 and remained in the position under Gov. Kim Reynolds.  Reynolds says Clabaugh strengthened the state’s infectious disease response, improved health data collection and led the agency to receive national accreditation.

A news conference with Governor Kim Reynolds was canceled today due to a visit by Vice President Mike Pence.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds confirmed she plans to sign an executive order that would automatically restore voting rights to convicted felons before the November general election.

Iowa is the only state in the nation that automatically denies felons the right to vote.

Reynolds spent the day with Vice President Mike Pence in northern Iowa.  Pence also visited in early May during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Iowa.

Pence offered an optimistic view of the nation and heaped praise on President Donald Trump during a speech at Winnebago Industries in Forest City today.

Pence flew to Mason City and had lunch with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. 

June 16, 2020
Credit Associated Press
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VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE IN MASON CITY, IA

Pence focused most of his speech In Iowa on efforts to reopen the economy after many businesses ceased operations to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Pence also touched on the death of George Floyd, calling it a “tragedy and a disgrace” but adding “there’s no excuse for the rioting” that followed the black man’s death after a white Minneapolis officer put a knee on his neck for more than eight minutes.

The Nebraska Democratic Party is calling on its U.S. Senate nominee to drop out of the race after he made sexual comments about a campaign staffer in a group text with her and other staffers.

The party says its state executive committee voted unanimously to withdraw all of its resources from Chris Janicek’s campaign.

Janicek, the owner of an Omaha cupcake bakery, is challenging Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, who is seeking a second term.

Janicek says he apologized to the staffer but doesn't intend to drop out. The staffer quit the campaign.

An Iowa native convicted of killing five people is now set for the middle of July.

The Justice Department set new dates to start executive federal death-row inmates following a months-long legal battle over the plan to resume executions for the first time since 2003.

52-year-old Dustin Honken is set to be executed on July 17th at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.  His execution was originally  planned for January.

Honken was convicted in 2004 in a federal courtroom in Sioux City for the murders of five people, including two girls who were 10 and 6.  Also, shot to death their mother and two men who were to testify against Honken in a drug trial in the early 1990s.

Both sides in the Mollie Tibbetts murder trial want a delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cristhian Bahena Rivera faces first-degree murder charges in connection with the murder in 2018.  The trial is currently scheduled in Woodbury County in September 29th.  Court documents filed this week request the trial be moved to January of next year.