News 12.2.20: COVID-19 Deaths Rise in All 3 Siouxland States, Mask Mandates and More
Deaths in all three Siouxland states due to complications of COVID-19 continue to climb.
Nebraska saw 62 during a 24-hour period and 2,000 additional cases.
There were almost 1,300 additional cases in South Dakota as the state moves closer to reaching the 1,000 mark for deaths. Forty-seven more people have died from the illness, one of the highest single-day death tallies since the pandemic began.
The CDC says last week the Rushmore State had the highest per capita death rate in the nation. There have been 995 deaths.
Iowa posted 22 additional deaths from the coronavirus, the third consecutive day of more than 20 deaths and raising the state’s death toll to 2,449 and almost 3,000 additional cases.
Eighty-four of Iowa’s 99 counties have a 14-day positivity rate more than 15%, including all of northwest Iowa. Ida County is now top in the state at more than 29%, followed by Lyon County with 28%. Cherokee County is number four with more than 27%. Woodbury County’s level is 18.8% and is trending slightly up from yesterday.
Hospitalizations remained high in Iowa hospitals, including 102 at Mercy One and UnityPoint-Health St. Luke’s. That’s the same rate as yesterday’s record high. The number of patients battling COVID-19 without another medical complication did fall by four patients. State data shows 181 patients were admitted statewide in the previous 24 hours, an increase from recent days.
Nebraska could get its first shipments of a coronavirus vaccine in less than two weeks if the proposed drug wins federal approval.
Health care workers will be given first priority and the general public may not get access until April.
Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday the state tentatively expects to receive 15,600 doses of a vaccine produced by Pfizer the week of Dec. 13. Another 19,500 doses from the company are slated to arrive the following week, plus 32,100 doses from Moderna if the FDA approves that company’s drug. State officials are planning to receive more than 100,000 by the month’s end.
The newest White House Coronavirus Task Force report has found new cases and test positivity rates in Iowa continue to decline. But the state still has some of the highest rates in the country.
The report is dated Sunday and was obtained by ABC News today.
It found that last week 98 percent of Iowa counties still had high levels of community spread.
And the state’s rate of new infections per 100 thousand people was nearly double that of the national average. Making it the sixth highest in the country. Though Iowa’s rate of new cases did drop 26 percent from the previous week.
The report said people under 40 who gathered with people outside of their immediate household over the Thanksgiving period should assume they’ve been infected. They should isolate and get tested immediately.
It also said people over 65 or those with significant health conditions should avoid indoor public spaces if anyone there is unmasked. As the COVID risk to Americans is at a historic high.
Today on Siouxland Public Media's Exchange program University of Iowa epidemiologist Dr. Eli Perencavich said those numbers are disturbing. Perencavich is also troubled by the coronavirus infections in more than 160 long term care facilities in Iowa, where the most vulnerable population is affected by covid. Perencavich said if the state supported bars and restaurants financially until the pandemic is under control, there would be much less community spread and fewer cases of covid in nursing homes,
"It's just remarkable that we won't spend money to close bars and restaurants to save their lives.
It's just shocking. It's not the way I thought it would play out in this country."
More than 2,900 additional confirmed coronavirus cases were posted In Iowa today. And hospitalizations remained high. Siouxland District Health says There have been 57 cases added to the total case count in the last 24 hours and two additional deaths.
As cases and deaths rise, the number of community’s passing mask mandates is also going up.
A face-covering ordinance kicks in Friday in Wayne Nebraska for anyone five and older. It expires on February 2nd. Violators could face a $25 fine.
Supervisors in Clay and Dickinson Counties in northwest Iowa also approved similar measures for public spaces, including schools and retail stores. There is no penalty for people who don’t follow the resolutions.
Pender, Nebraska turned down a mask mandate during a vote last night.
One of the state’s top epidemiologists says Iowa State is throwing gasoline on the fire by allowing fans to attend sporting events.
Fans can attend the ISU football game on Saturday and basketball on Sunday.
That’s according to a letter sent out this week by ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard. Pollard cited a decreasing trend of COVID-19 cases locally and statewide.
Dr. Eli Perencevich of the University of Iowa commented on Twitter after the announcement about fans. He says cases and positivity rates are still dangerously and insanely high.
Story County added 56 new cases on Tuesday according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. The 14-day positivity rate is more than 11%.
Dr. Eli was the special guest on today’s Exchange program. He says the state of Iowa should use COVID relief money to shut down bars and restaurants to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Former Iowa State football coach Jim Walden is enjoying the success of the 12th-ranked Cyclones. Iowa State is 7-2 overall and has secured at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title. The 82-year-old Walden is retired in Idaho. He says he watches every Iowa State game on television. Walden says he plans to text or call current coach Matt Campbell to thank him for turning around a program that hasn't won a conference title in football since 1912.
Democrat Rita Hart will file a petition with the U.S. House to challenge the outcome in the race for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. Earlier this week, state officials certified that Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks won the race by a mere six votes.
Hart announced today she would be bypassing a state election challenge process, saying it wouldn’t give enough time to recount outstanding votes before a December 8th deadline.