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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 7.9.20: Unemployment Up, Noem for President? and Cost for Mount Rushmore Fireworks

July 3, 2020
Associated Press

SPM NEWS 7.9.20 - 4:04PM
SPM NEWS 7.9.20 - 4:32PM

Locally, there are 11 new cases of the novel coronavirus in Woodbury County, for a total of 3,282.  Dakota County reports five more positive cases for 1,805.  In the three counties in the Sioux City Metro area there are 83 deaths in all, with one in Union County where they also logged 140 cases.

Seven more Iowans have died from COVID-19 and 669 more have tested positive for a total of 739 deaths and more than 33,200 positive cases.

There are 11 new cases in Woodbury County and the number of deaths remains at 44.  Dakota County reports 5 new cases for 1,805.  There are 38 deaths.

For the whole state of Nebraska there are 282 fatalities and more than 20,400 positive cases. 

The South Dakota Department of Health reports 101 have died, that’s an increase of three people.  There were 94 new cases for more than 7,300 total. 

Governor Kristi Noem has doubled-down on her hands-off approach to the pandemic by pointing to the state’s low hospitalization numbers.   

Credit Associated Press

Some health experts in the state worry that early success in managing the pandemic could be undone.

They are worried by the Republican governor’s reluctance to endorse mask-wearing, as well as the state’s relatively low amount of testing.

The number of people filing new unemployment claims in Nebraska surged last week to its highest level in nearly two months.

The U.S. Department of Labor says more than 6,100 people filed initial claims for benefits during the week that ended July 4.

That’s a roughly 46% increase from the previous week.

Other Midwestern states saw increase as well.

Iowa Workforce Development reports almost 11,000 workers filed new claims last week.

That’s the highest weekly total since late May.

Most claims continue to come from the manufacturing industry and self-employed workers.

Iowa mental health advocates say they’re grateful Governor Kim Reynolds is directing 50-million dollars in federal funding to mental health. But they say state leaders still need to find a permanent solution.

Peggy Huppert is executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Iowa. She says it’s a significant investment that can help get the mental health system through the next year.

“It’s one time money, and it’s not going to fix or fund anything beyond that. So the legislature still needs to deal with this with a sense of urgency when they return in January.”

Huppert says we’ll see mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic for a long time as anxiety, depression and childhood trauma increase. She says lawmakers should’ve taken care of the mental health funding issue before coronavirus hit the state. Leaders from both parties said it would be a priority this year.

Around 300 voters showed up at the polls in Woodbury County on Tuesday, forgetting they already cast absentee ballots in a special election for supervisor.

The Secretary of State moved the election from April to July because of the coronavirus concerns.

The County Auditor says this kind of confusion occasionally happens, especially with elderly residents, but nothing to this level.

Political newcomer Republican Justin Wright beat state lawmaker and Democrat Tim Kacena.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says she is not interested in running for president in 2024 and would rather stay in South Dakota.

The first-term Republican governor has drawn attention from conservative commentators for avoiding lockdown orders during the pandemic.

Supporters on social media have even called for her to run for president in 2024, but she says she’s not interested.

Noem made the comments in a conference call with Center of the American Experiment, a conservative think-tank based in Minnesota.

Noem has courted the attention of President Donald Trump while in office, but she says she uses her relationship with the White House to advocate for the needs of South Dakota.

Noem’s first term as governor ends at the beginning of 2023.

South Dakota spent about $1.5 million for its Independence Day celebration that featured a speech from President Donald Trump and fireworks above the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

The estimate from the Department of Tourism covers all security, transportation and pyrotechnics for the event.

The fireworks display alone cost the state $350,000.

But the Department of Tourism said the advertising exposure and tourism spending more than made up for the expenses.

The Department of Tourism estimates that tourism spending of $2 million brought in $160,000 in tax revenue. It also says the media coverage of the fireworks was worth about $22 million in advertising.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.