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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 10.5.20: NE Pandemic Warning, 2 More Deaths in Woodbury County, Early Voting Starts and More

October 5, 2020
Facebook/Nebraska Medicine

SPM NEWS 10.5.20 - 5:32PM

Health officials in Nebraska say the state has entered a dangerous period during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deaths in Nebraska have topped 500 according to the latest update from Sunday night with more people hospitalized with the virus than ever before.

There were 400 new cases, for a total of more than 47,800 since the state of the pandemic.  Nebraska health officials say a third of the state’s intensive care beds remain available. 

A group of scientists and experts from the University of Nebraska and Nebraska Medicine released a statement today, it says in part, "The largest surge of cases and hospitalizations we have seen is currently upon us. We know how to beat this virus, but we’ve gotten complacent. Many more are likely to die if we don’t take more action immediately. "

They also say as winter hits the risk will grow even more.

You can check out a news conference from Nebraska Media here.

Statewide, the Iowa Department of Public Health added seven more deaths and more than 350 new cases.  There were 1,387 deaths recorded by the Iowa Coronavirus website on Monday afternoon, including two more in Woodbury County according to Siouxland District Health.

Figures compiled Saturday by The COVID Tracking Project rank South Dakota second in the country for the number of new cases per capita in the last two weeks.  Iowa is number five.

South Dakota health officials confirmed 432 new cases of the coronavirus and a record high of 4,248 active cases. The state processed 1,756 tests in the last day, for a positivity rate of 24.6%. Officials have confirmed a total of 24,418 cases since the start of the pandemic. The death toll stands at 248, with no new fatalities reported Sunday. However, hospitalizations rose by 17, to a total of 232.

The family of a Tyson Foods worker who died of the coronavirus in April has filed a lawsuit claiming his plant took few safety precautions before he and others became infected. Pedro Cano worked on the kill floor elbow-to-elbow with others at a Tyson pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa. A wrongful death lawsuit filed by his three adult children says that Cano developed COVID-19 symptoms in early April , days before Tyson announced that two dozen workers had tested positive and that production would be suspended. The lawsuit says Cano died 12-days later at the age of 51. The plant resumed production with new safety measures a week after his death.

Early voting for the November election started today, and that includes absentee ballots that were sent out today.

In Woodbury County, you can cast your absentee ballot in person at the Long Lines Family Rec Center Monday through Friday from 8 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon.  Saturday voting opens up later this month on October 24th.

County Auditor and Election Commissioner Pat Gill says they have been seeing a steady stream of voters. 

Message from Pat Gill:

We have a steady stream of voters going to the Long Lines Family Rec Center to cast an in-person absentee ballot.  It is also the first day that we can mail ballots to voters who have requested one.  We ask that voters that have a ballot mailed to them, to follow instructions and sign the envelope that they return the ballot in.  We cannot process a ballot that does not have a signature on the return/affidavit envelope.  If a voter seals the return/affidavit envelope with ballot in it but the ballot is not in the secrecy sleeve, we ask them to please don’t reopen the envelope to use the secrecy sleeve.  The ballot will counted without the secrecy sleeve.  If the envelope is reopened, it is considered defective and will not be counted.  The voter would have to start the process over.

A judge blocked Iowa’s secretary of state Monday from enforcing an order that barred counties from sending absentee ballot applications to voters with their identification information already filled in. Judge Robert Hanson ruled in favor of state and national Democratic Party groups, who contended that Secretary of State Paul Pate exceeded his authority when he told counties that absentee ballot request forms must be blank when mailed to voters. Hanson ordered Pate to put enforcement of his directive on hold. Local elections officials said they were studying the ruling to determine the impact, including whether they could take steps to mail ballots to thousands of voters whose requests were previously invalidated based on Pate’s directive.

Some of the biggest conservative names in Nebraska politics are lining up against ballot measures to legalize casinos, which they argue would fuel an increase in gambling addictions and related social problems. Opponents of the legalization measure include Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, former Gov. Kay Orr and U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne, a former Nebraska football coach. Voters will decide next month whether to allow casinos at state-licensed race tracks in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island, Columbus and South Sioux City. In-person, early voting for the general election started Monday.

A political action committee that supports candidates for the Nebraska Public Power District’s board is being scrutinized because it received a start-up loan from a group backed by several rural public power districts. Several ratepayers and two NPPD board members have questioned whether the $7,500 loan the Nebraskans for Reliable and Affordable Electricity group received was proper. The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission is looking into the matter after several people filed complaints about the loan from the Nebraska Electric Generation and Transmission cooperative that is funded by several public utilities. Officials with the utility cooperative defended the loan.

South Dakota’s Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the road Monday. The justices will hold court at the University of South Dakota School of Law in Vermillion with some precautions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Chief Justice David Gilbertson says no more than 40 people will be allowed in the law school courtroom that holds about 200 people. Gilbertson says they will be following the university’s policy which requires masks indoors, however, justices and lawyers will not need to have them on when speaking. 

The Supreme Court has refused to take up an appeal from South Dakota’s only death row inmate, who was sentenced to death after he pleaded guilty to taking part in a torture killing 20 years ago. The court did not comment Monday in leaving in place the death sentence for Briley Piper, an Alaska man who was one of three people convicted in the killing of Chester Allen Poage of Spearfish, South Dakota. One has been executed and the other is serving a life sentence in prison. Prosecutors said the three men were high on methamphetamine and LSD when they decided to burglarize Poage’s home. The episode ended with the men stoning Poage to death.