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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 11.10.20: Partial Mask Mandate for IA, Virtual Learning Update and NE Gov. Exposed to the Virus


Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says the state has reached a point of serious community spread of COVID-19. 

During a news conference today, she issued a partial mask mandate for social gatherings to slow the spread of the virus.  She also extended the public health emergency for another 30 days with more restrictions. 

“If we want to protect our health care workers, keep our businesses, schools and hospitals open now is the time for every Iowa to carefully decide what you can to stop the virus and stop from spreading it.”

For a full list click here.

Reynolds says any social or sports gathering will be limited to 25 people indoors or 100 people outdoors, unless everyone two-years and older wear masks. For sporting events, student athletes can only have two spectators. Social distancing must be followed.  Plus, masks are mandatory for workers in the service industry.

Reynolds says current trends can’t continue and could impact people needing medical care as a state sees a surge.

Bars must allow social distancing and patrons must be seated at all times.  There are new restrictions on group size.  Only eight allowed per grouping unless they are members of the same household/family. 

The governor also challenged employers to try and come up with ways to allow their employees to work virtually.

The new proclamation goes into effect tomorrow through November 30.

The head of the Iowa Department of Education joined Governor Reynolds at today's news gathering and says school districts can ask to move to full online learning even without meeting the criteria for test positivity or absentee rates of 15 and ten percent.

Ann Lebo says every request will be done on a case by case basis and districts can move to virtual learning for 48 hours while waiting for a response from the state. 

Without approval from the state, schools must hold at least half of their instruction in person, but can request a waiver to move buildings or a whole district to online learning for two weeks.

The Iowa Department of Education has approved a waiver for Des Moines Public Schools to switch to all-online classes starting Monday and going through the end of the month.

DMPS is one of several districts including Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Johnston and West Des Moines that are asking for state approval to temporarily go virtual because of worsening pandemic conditions.

Department of Education director Ann Lebo says 24 remote learning requests have been approved since the start of the month and more are pending.  The Iowa Department of Public Health reports 27 more Iowans have due to complications of the illness and more than 4,400 new cases in a 24-hour span.

Credit Siouxland District Health Department

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports 27 more Iowans have died due to complications of the illness and more than 4,400 new cases in a 24-hour span.

Siouxland District Health reports one more death for a total of 103 and 115 new cases.

The state is also seeing a record high in the number of long term care facilities where outbreaks have been reported.  There are 102 across the state and 15 in northwest Iowa.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and first lady Susanne Shore have gone into quarantine after both were exposed to a person with the coronavirus. Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage says Ricketts and Shore had dinner outside with three other people on Sunday night. One of the people who was with them tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday. Gage says Ricketts and Shore will quarantine for 14 days. Neither is showing any symptoms, and both will get tested. Nebraska has seen a recent record-setting surge in new, known virus cases and hospitalizations, prompting Ricketts to reimpose some of the public health mandates that were lifted in September.

Sioux Falls’ mayor says he would vote against a coronavirus mask mandate if he’s called upon to break a tie vote on the matter by the City Council. The council will likely make a decision on the mandate Tuesday night. Eight council members will likely split evenly on the mandate, which carries a $50 fine for violations. Mayor Paul TenHaken believes the mandate would be unenforceable by police and ineffective in lowering local hospitalization rates. The proposed ordinance would require face coverings in indoor public places where six-foot social distancing isn’t possible.

South Dakota has reported its first case of a prison inmate dying due to complications from COVID-19. The Department of Corrections report posted Monday showed that the inmate was being housed at the Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield. The update did not say how old the person was or when that person died. More than 50% of state prisoners have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The department has confirmed 1,870 cases since the pandemic began, out of about 3,350 prisoners. There were 907 statewide cases confirmed since Sunday. The COVID Tracking Project reports that one in every 109 people in South Dakota tested positive in the past week

A new state auditor's report has confirmed problems with the integrity of the evidence room of the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office in northwestern Iowa. State Auditor Rob Sand said in a special investigation report released Tuesday that record logs of evidence did not match the actual evidence in inventory in at least six cases. That included 49 pills of both over-the-counter medicines and unknown substances missing from the evidence room. Investigators also found that some evidence bags had been tampered with and 18 instances in which the sheriff's department failed to keep sufficient records to determine whether something was missing from the evident room.

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