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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 8.26.20: USD C-19 Surge, Drop Box Ballots, Grain Elevator Explosion Update and More

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University of South Dakota
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Dozens of students and staff members of the University of South Dakota in Vermillion have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. There are 61 active cases and 331 people in quarantine.  There are nearly 100 cases across five public universities in the state.

Nine students at Dordt University in Sioux Center have tested positive and are in isolation off-campus.

According to Siouxland News KMEG-FOX 44 the university hosted a Test Iowa site on campus for students who arrived early last week.

The Iowa Department of Public Heaths reports 13 more Iowans have died from complications of COVID-19 with more than 800 new positive cases in a 24 hour period.

The number of positive cases have now topped 4,000 in Woodbury County according to the state coronavirus website.  That's an increase of 25.  Dakota County health officials reported one new case.

Six Iowa counties have a 14-day average positive test rate at or above 15%. That is the threshold needed before school districts can request virtual learning only. They are Plymouth, Sioux, Carroll, Clinton, Howard and Marion counties.

Plymouth County has 21.6% and administrators of the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn and Remsen-Union School District do plan to start school tomorrow.  The start date was pushed back from Tuesday because of the high rate of new infections. 

Iowa's Republican secretary of state has issued instructions that counties cannot set up drop boxes to accept early ballots for this year's general election. That comes despite not challenging the use of those boxes in more than a third of Iowa's counties in previous elections. The Iowa Secretary of State’s Office recently told county auditors during training that Iowa law doesn't allow the use of drop boxes for ballots.

All eyes of the political world will be squarely on South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem tonight when she addresses the Republican National Convention and makes her case to re-elect the president.

The first-term governor never shut down businesses, never mandated mask-wearing and welcomed two massive public gatherings this summer.

And the cause of a grain elevator explosion in Clay County, Iowa remains under investigation today.

Ag Partners issued a news release this afternoon saying the elevator in Royal experienced a grain dust incident yesterday afternoon and the company was very appreciative of all the first responders who helped extinguish the fire.  No one was hurt. 

As K-12 and college students and staff begin returning to classrooms, the pace of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to accelerate in Iowa, prompting alarm among some infectious disease experts. The state on Wednesday reported 817 new coronavirus cases and 13 deaths in the past 24 hours. Iowa's death toll stands at 1,061. Some of the increase appears to be due to young adults packing bars in the university cities of Ames and Iowa City, often in violation of state regulations that require social distancing. Despite 167 complaints, state officials have reported no fines, license suspensions or revocations.

Iowa State University officials say the school has taken steps to correct an English teacher's syllabus that initially banned her students from submitting work opposing Black Lives Matter, gay marriage, abortion and other social issues. English instructor Chloe Clark's syllabus instructed that students could not choose a writing topic that “takes at its base that one side doesn't deserve the same basic human rights as you do.” The syllabus has drawn national media attention and criticism from free speech groups. ISU says in a statement that the professor was given guidance on First Amendment protections for student expression in ISU classrooms.

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