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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 10.19.20: C-19 Surge, IA Relief Spending Questioned, Sasse Attacked, Crop Report and More

Iowa Department of Public Health

SPM NEWS 10.19.20 - 4:32PM

Iowa has reported nearly 3,000 new confirmed positive coronavirus cases in the last three days.

The state Department of Public Health reported 1,595 confirmed cases Saturday, another 915 on Sunday and 508 new confirmed cases Monday.

During that time, the department reported 13 more deaths from the coronavirus. There were 480 people being treated in Iowa hospitals for the virus, just below a record high set last week.

Siouxland District Health that oversees Woodbury County saw a total of almost 50 new cases.  There have been 89 deaths, including four more added on Saturday.

A post on the health department’s Facebook Page says Woodbury County continues to see a significant number of COVID-19 cases.  Health officials say it’s extremely important everyone do their part to prevent the spread by staying home when sick, even if only mildly ill, or if you had close contact with a COVID-19 case.  Also practice physical distancing, wear masks in public and wash hands frequently.

A recent surge of coronavirus cases in Nebraska has led to record numbers of hospitalizations, and the state’s rate of new infections now ranks fifth-highest nationally. The state said a record 343 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 after it reported 734 new cases of the virus Sunday to give Nebraska more than 58,000 cases since the pandemic began. There have also been 548 deaths linked to the virus.

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases in South Dakota has increased by almost 64%. 

The state has reached the 100 mark in deaths due to complications from COVID-19 in October, with eight new fatalities in the last day.

The update showed 658 positive tests since Saturday, for a total of more than 33,00 infections since the pandemic began. The death toll stands at 323.

The COVID Tracking Project reports there were about 978 new cases per 100,000 people in South Dakota over the past two weeks. That ranks second in the country behind North Dakota for new cases per capita.

Nebraska is number five in the nation for new infections. 

The state said a record 343 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 after it reported 734 new cases of the virus Sunday to give Nebraska more than 58,000 cases since the pandemic began. There have also been 548 deaths linked to the virus.

The Dakota County Health Department recorded a dozen new cases on Monday and 46 deaths with two more added over the weekend.

State Auditor Rob Sand has informed Governor Kim Reynolds that her use of federal pandemic relief funding to help pay for an HR and accounting software system is not allowed under the CARES Act.

Sand, a Democrat, says he worked with the US Treasury Office of the Inspector General to confirm his conclusions.

Reynolds used 21-million dollars to help pay for the contract with Workday that was signed in 2019, before the pandemic. Her office has said this fits with the CARES Act’s requirement for spending to be related to the pandemic, even though the software system isn’t supposed to go live until nearly a year from now. 

Sand says Reynolds should direct that money to pandemic relief efforts allowed by the CARES Act. Sand’s office also determined Reynolds’ use of nearly 450-thousand dollars for her existing staff is questionable.

South Dakota’s voter registration numbers have increased by more than 5% since the last presidential election.  South Dakota had nearly 573,000 active registered voters as of Friday, according to the Secretary of State’s office.  Today, is the deadline for registering. Registered Republicans have increased by 9% compared with 2016. But the number of registered South Dakota Democrats is down nearly 8%. Independents, or those with no political affiliation, are up almost 15%. Early voting in South Dakota runs through Nov 2.

The Nebraska Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to a payday lending measure on the November ballot. Supporters of the measure gathered enough signatures to place the proposal on the Nov. 3 ballot. However, a lawsuit argued that when circulators gathered petition signatures, they didn’t read the initiative’s full object statement to signers. A Lancaster County District Court judge dismissed the challenge in September. The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed the district court decision. If approved by voters, the measure would cap the annual interest rate on payday loans at 36%.

President Donald Trump is pushing back at Sen. Ben Sasse on Twitter, calling the Nebraska senator “a liability to the Republican Party, and an embarrassment” to the state.

The president’s Twitter attack over the weekend came after Sasse told constituents in a telephone town hall Wednesday that Trump has “flirted with white supremacists,” mocks Christian evangelicals in private, and “kisses dictators’ butts.”

Sasse is running for a second term in a reliably red state. He made his comments in response to a question about why he has been willing to publicly criticize a president of his own party. A spokesman has said the same things to the president.

The University of Iowa said it would not pay a demand from eight Black former football players for $20 million in compensation for alleged racial discrimination they faced playing for the Hawkeyes. The university general counsel’s office released its response yesterday to a 21-page certified letter dated Oct. 5. The players also called for the firings of head football coach Kirk Ferentz, offensive line coach Brian Ferentz and athletic director Gary Barta. The university says it has taken steps to improve the environment for Black athletes.

A new report says damage estimates from a rare wind storm that slammed Iowa and some other parts of the Midwest in August are growing. The total is now $7.5 billion. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the storm on August 10th is currently the second-costliest U.S. disaster so far in 2020, although cost estimates for the widespread wildfires along the West Coast aren’t yet available. The August storm hit Iowa hard but also caused damage in Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota and Indiana. The most expensive disaster so far this year was Hurricane Laura, which caused $14 billion in damage along the Gulf Coast.

Harvest is nearing completion as Iowa farmers had nearly six and a half days suitable for fieldwork last week. Today’s report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the corn harvest is almost 65 percent complete. Farmers in northwest, north central and west central Iowa have less than 5% of their soybeans remaining to be taken from the field.  Producers in south central Iowa continue to lag behind. They still have approximately two-thirds of their corn in the field and at least 20% of their soybeans remain to be harvested.