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News and resources regarding COVID-19

News 11.12.20: Major C-19 Updates for Infections, Hospitals, Schools and More

New York Times

SPM NEWS 11.12.20 - 4:04PM

The New York Times highlighted Sioux City in a story released today on places hard hit by the coronavirus.

The report says the Sioux City metro area may have faced the most prolonged suffering during the pandemic.  Sioux City had more cases per capital than any other metro area, except Bismark, North Dakota.  Nearly 9-percent of people in the area have tested positive.  After an outbreak this spring at meatpacking plants, Sioux City saw a relatively quiet summer, before infections started rising again since the middle of August.

Mayor Bob Scott told the Times almost everyone at an outdoor Veterans Day event wore a mask, something he would not have expected a few weeks ago.  Scott says most people in Sioux City do not realize this area experienced one of the highest case rates in the nation. 

Siouxland District Health reports even higher levels of hospitalizations for Sioux City’s two hospitals.  Jointly, they are treating 89 patients, with 70% battling just COVID-19.  That’s about 10% more patients than Monday and an increase of almost 20 from a month ago.  In mid September, there were 31 patients. The 14-day test positivity rate for Woodbury County is the highest since the state has released that information at almost 23%.  

Credit Siouxland District Health Department

Iowa’s governor calling on rural Iowans to remain vigilant against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Kim Reynolds says although the state’s most populated counties are seeing the most overall cases, smaller counties are experiencing higher surges.

There were 4,500 new cases in 24-hours and 30 more deaths reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health on Thursday. 

During her second news conference this week, the governor says she plans to buy another 360,000 test kits from a Utah company for free “Test Iowa” sites.  She says the current supply should last for almost another month.

Reynolds says her public awareness campaign is launching this week, and the budget is about half a million dollars. The money is coming from federal coronavirus relief funds, according to her office.

The Iowa Board of Health voted on a resolution recommending the governor issue a statewide mask mandate. 

Governor Reynolds had said a mask mandate is unenforceable. She did issue a partial mandate for social gatherings that kicked in yesterday.

West Middle School in Sioux City will move to emergency on-line learning starting tomorrow through Thanksgiving.  The school district says the absentee rate for students met the threshold of 10% to allow the district to apply for a waiver to move to virtual instruction.  The Iowa Department of Education granted the waiver.  Seventh graders started virtual classes on Wednesday after students tested positive or showed symptoms of the coronavirus.  

Credit Sioux City Community Schools

Nearly 10% of the state's schools have sought a waiver to temporarily educate students remotely instead of in classrooms.

A north-central Iowa teacher has died of COVID-19 days after testing positive for the illness.

The Des Moines Register reports 38-year-old Jason Englert died last week after caught the virus from an 

Credit Belmond-Klemme Community School District/Des Moines Register
Jason Englert

outbreak at the Belmond-Klemme Community School District.  The superintendent of the district believes the outbreak was linked to students getting together outside of school.  Englert was in his first year of teaching the district’s Talented and Gifted program

Universities in South Dakota are encouraging their students to get tested before returning home for Thanksgiving to help slow the spread of the virus.

USD in Vermillion and South Dakota State University in Brookings are offering free tests. Health officials say the majority of recent case come from smaller gatherings of family and friends.

South Dakota has the highest hospitalization rate in the country, with about 42 of every 100,000 South Dakotans hospitalized with Covid-19, according to the Covid Tracking Project.

South Dakota reported a record-number of new infections at more than 2,000 one day.  A total of about 7% of people living in South Dakota have tested positive for COVID-19.

Two weeks before Thanksgiving, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is urging for “very small gatherings” for 

Credit Facebook/Gov. Pete Ricketts

this year’s holiday.  Ricketts joined a news conference by video screen after coming in contact with a person who later tested positive for the virus.  So far, Ricketts has tested negative. 

Credit Twitter/Brian Mastre, WOWT

A COVID-19 survivor shared his story.  Steve Shrader spent 37-days in the hospital, and 19-days on a  ventilator and says wear a mask and avoid big groups.  His wife says the disease is “Russian Roulette and not to be taken lightly”.

Nebraska reported 2,209 new virus cases and one new death Wednesday, and the number of people hospitalized with the virus set another new record at 885.

The surge in cases has significantly increased demand for testing. At sites run by the state’s main testing service, Test Nebraska, the wait to get a test increased to 48 hours this week at most sites in Omaha and Lincoln.

State officials say they have added testing capacity in those cities. The state continues to have the sixth-highest rate of infection, and over the past week, one person in every 137 people in Nebraska was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he wishes the neighboring Dakotas would take more aggressive steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus, singling out South Dakota's Republican governor, Kristi Noem, for criticism. Walz, a Democrat, made the comments Tuesday during a news conference in St. Paul where he announced new restrictions on bars, restaurants and gatherings in Minnesota. He lamented that Minnesota is catching up with the Dakotas, which lead the country in new cases per capita. The Democratic governor said he’s not blaming neighboring states for that, but he said this summer’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota was “absolutely unnecessary,” and that data shows it helped spread the virus beyond that state.

Congresswoman-elect Ashley Hinson 

Credit Associated Press
Ashley Hinson

has announced she’s tested positive for COVID-19. The Republican state representative flipped northeast Iowa’s 1st Congressional District in last week’s election.

In a statement, Hinson’s campaign said she got her positive test result last night, that she feels “great” and is quarantining at home.

It’s not yet clear how she contracted the virus. Hinson held in-person campaign events throughout the district, even as cases continued surging in Iowa.

Former Democratic State Senator Rita Hart will request a full recount of all 24 counties in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.

The race is considered one of the closest in the country. Hart’s competitor Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks leads in the unofficial results by just 47 votes.

Human error by election workers in two different counties flipped the lead during the tallying process. Hart’s campaign says a full recount is needed to alleviate any doubt about the results, which remain unofficial until the state canvass on November 30th.

Support Siouxland Soldiers reports a successful food giveaway for veterans, military members and their 

Credit Support Siouxland Soldiers

families on Veterans Day.  The group, including many volunteer handed out 13,000 pounds of food, including turkeys.

They plan to do another event on December 16th at Long Long Rec Center with ham, chicken and 20,000 pounds of food.


Months after announcing it would abandon its longtime Indian chief head corporate logo, Mutual of Omaha has unveiled a new logo depicting an African lion. The 

Credit Associated Press

Omaha, Nebraska-based company announced the new logo on Thursday. It replaces the depiction of a Native American chief that had been synonymous with the company for 70 years. The company announced its plans for a change in July, as corporations and sports teams around the country have faced increasing pressure to dump nicknames and depictions that reference American Indians amid a nationwide movement calling for racial justice.

Morningside College announced a name change today.  Starting on June 1st of next year the school will become Morningside University. 


Morningside’s president says the decision to change the name came from a unanimous vote by the college’s board of director during their October meeting.  The discussion to change of the name has been going on throughout the last decade, and especially in the last five years.  A news release says several years ago, Morningside’s Carnegie Classification - changed Morningside’s classification from “regional college” to “regional university. The primary difference between a U.S. college and university is a university generally offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Morningside has offered graduate degrees since the late 1960s and now serves more graduate students than undergraduate students.

News release from Morningside College:

Morningside College to become Morningside Universit

Sioux City, Iowa – Morningside College will become Morningside University effective June 1, 2021.

“Our history as Morningside College has been rich. Morningside holds a special place in the hearts of many. It has changed lives, and nothing will alter that legacy,” said Morningside’s President John Reynders. “Ultimately, though, it’s Morningside – not Morningside College or the College – that most resonates with those who love this place. Morningside will remain Morningside. For those that don’t know us, though, the change to university has the potential to open new doors and new hearts within the global marketplace.”

Undergraduate students graduating in May 2021 will have the distinction of being the final graduating class of Morningside College, while the graduate commencement ceremony slated for June 2021 will produce the first graduating class of Morningside University.

The decision to change the name resulted from a unanimous vote by the Morningside College Board of Directors during their meeting on October 9, 2020. The name change discussion has been ongoing throughout the last decade, particularly in the last five years. Several years ago, Morningside’s Carnegie Classification - a framework that classifies colleges and universities in the United States - changed Morningside’s classification from “regional college” to “regional university,” serving as a major turning point in the discussion. The primary difference between a U.S. college and university is that a university generally offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Morningside has offered graduate degrees since the late 1960s and now serves more graduate students than undergraduate students. While undergraduate programs remain at the heart of what Morningside does, the addition of a Doctor of Nursing Practice program in fall 2019 to accompany the existing Master of Arts in Teaching and Master of Science in Nursing programs affirmed Morningside’s place as a regional resource for adults seeking graduate-level education.

The integration of experiential learning has also changed the Morningside undergraduate experience, offering more engaging and hands-on opportunities for students in all majors. Research is encouraged across disciplines, and initiatives like Project Siouxland connect students with local businesses to address real-world challenges. These active learning opportunities extend beyond the classroom and into global experiences, with almost 10% of Morningside students choosing to study or travel internationally. Additionally, Morningside has annually averaged around 70 international students on campus for the last several years. Given that university is a more globally understood term, Morningside will be better positioned to continue to attract international students. 

The physical transformation of the campus contributed to the decision as well, with over $70 million in physical plant investments over the last 15 years. Today, Morningside reflects the image of a small residential university with updated academic buildings, new and renovated residence halls, water features, walkways, and a park-like setting that has become a highly photographed and desirable area for events for students and the community alike.

“The period of growth and change that we have experienced in the last two decades rival any in Morningside’s history. Though some things have stayed the same, Morningside is also a place that has changed,” continued Reynders. “Breaking into new markets and expanding our reach requires bold moves that affirm the work we have done in the last 20 years. Transitioning from Morningside College to Morningside University represents an important step toward our future.”

For more information including frequently asked questions and information for alumni, please visit morningside.edu/university.

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