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News 9.1.20: Hinton School Changes, IA C-19 Update, Crop Report and More

Hinton Community School District

The Hinton Community School District is making changes after high COVID-19 positivity rates in Plymouth County.  A letter to families says the community is now seeing an increase.  Cases were previously seen on other parts of the county.

Starting tomorrow, all 4th grade to 12th grade students will move to hybrid learning.  Students will be in class two days and online the other three days.  All P-K to third grade students will stay on-site.  The current positivity rate in Plymouth County is 22.4%.  That is less than yesterday.  The only other county in northwest Iowa over the 15% threshold, for asking the state for a waiver to go to on-line learning only, is Sioux County at 22%

Marcus Meriden Cleghorn and Remsen Union school districts in Cherokee and Plymouth will move all students to hybrid learning Thursday through September 22nd. The superintendent says 44 students from preschool through 8th grade are in quarantine as of today.

The Iowa Department of Public Health shows an increase of 700 new positive cases for COVID-19 in a 24-hour period and nine deaths.  There are now more than 65,000 Iowans who have tested positive for the disease since March.  There have been 1,121 deaths with a majority coming from long-term care facilities. 

There are four outbreaks at facilities in northwest Iowa, including Good Samaritan Society in Le Mars with 32 positive case and 14 recoveries.  Kingsley Specialty Care has 13 positive cases.  The other facilities with outbreaks include Prairie View Home in O’Brien County and Good Samaritan in the Lyon County community in George.  Almost, all of the cases there have recovered.

The state of Iowa corona virus website also shows 17 new cases in Woodbury County and 56 deaths.  In Dakota County, health officials say there are 11 new cases for a total of 1,995 and 42 deaths.

Coronavirus cases continued to climb in South Dakota on Tuesday, with the state reporting 240 news cases, but no deaths. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 198, almost doubling. The state currently ranks third in the country for new cases per capita, with 357 new cases per 100,000 people, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins.

The University of South Dakota’s online dashboard shows 242 active cases of COVID-19 with students and staff and almost 600 in quarantine and isolation.

Morningside College launched its dashboard today.  It showed four students testing positive with a total of 23 students in quarantine on and off campus.  The dashboard will be updated each Tuesday.

Siouxland News KMEG-FOX 44 reports Dordt University has 24 active cases of student who tested positive.  They are in isolation provided by the University or have returned home.

Face masks are required on campus.

Since Friday, an additional 326 students at the University of Iowa have self-reported they’ve test positive for the coronavirus. Since classes started last week, a total of 922 U-I students and 13 employees have self-reported that they have the virus.

Because students and staff are not required to notify the school, actual infection rates are likely higher.

New cases in the state have surged as university campuses reopened.

On Monday, Ames and Iowa City had more new cases per capita than any other metro areas in the country, according to the New York Times.

Former Republican state Senator Rick Bertrand is calling for Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill to resign after sending out prepopulated request forms to over 56,000 registered voters.

Last month, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate ruled that the forms must be mailed blank to ensure uniformity. After a hearing last Friday, a Woodbury County judge ruled that Gill's office must obey Pate's directives and orders.  

Bertrand says Gill broke the law and has cost Woodbury County 90 thousand dollars on ballot request form issues so far.

 “He plans on resending an absentee ballot, which I’m not sure why, when the secretary of state is going to send a blank one over Labor Day weekend, that’s going to cost another 7o thousand, so you do the math on this and we are up to about 160 thousand.”

About 14,000 absentee request forms have been returned to Gill's office.  Bertrand sayd if Gill refuses to resign, the county Board of Supervisors should take action.

So far, Gill declined a request to comment on Bertrand's lawsuit. 

Iowa Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley says he sees the potential for a stronger relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan. Taiwan’s president last week announced the country would ease restrictions on U.S. pork and beef imports.

Grassley says Taiwan has made a real effort to start a dialogue after the U.S. has been “fighting them” over trade for years.

"It’s very fortunate that they have broken down their barriers and mostly not what we call non-tariff trade barriers, just political excuses to keep our products out."

Grassley says this is good news, but does not see it as a huge economic benefit.

Iowa’s corn is maturing ahead of schedule, thanks to continuing dry weather, but now drought is a concern across most of the state’s farmland. That’s according to today’s (Monday’s) crop progress report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Farmers rated less than half of the corn crop as “good to excellent.” At 45 percent, that’s the worst rating Iowa corn has had since October 2013.

Soybeans are also ahead of schedule with 96 percent already setting pods. Half the crop is rated good to excellent.

The Army Corps of Engineers is recommending that the federal government negotiate a settlement with North Dakota for more than $38 million that the state spent policing protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. The request comes following a federal judge's decision last month to deny the federal government’s motion to dismiss North Dakota’s lawsuit seeking to recover the damages the state claimed from the months long pipeline protests almost four years ago. North Dakota Republican U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer calls the recommendation “very significant” and the right thing to do for the federal government. The $3.8 billion pipeline has been moving oil from the Dakotas through Iowa to Illinois for more than three years.

Embattled Nebraska U.S. Senate hopeful Chris Janicek is doubling down on his refusal to bow out of the race, despite relentless pressure from the state Democratic Party after he admitted to sending sexually offensive text messages about a campaign employee. Janicek reaffirmed his pledge to stay in the race during a press conference at his Omaha cupcake bakery. The Democratic nominee has until 5 p.m. Tuesday to request that state officials remove his name from the ballot, but he made clear that he has no plans to do so.