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Iowa Continues to Report Record Numbers of COVID-19 Deaths

For the second straight day, Iowa reported a staggering number of COVID-19 deaths. Another 84 deaths were reported today, following 70 a day earlier. Before this week, the highest number of deaths reported in a single day was 47, which was reported on Nov. 25.
While the new deaths were reported since 10 a.m. yesterday, only two were from December, according to the state's Coronavirus.Iowa.gov website. The bulk of the deaths were from November, with last month's death toll now at 801. At 10 a.m. yesterday, the state reported 2,603 deaths related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The deaths come as the state prepares for the distribution of up to 172 000 doses of coronavirus vaccine expected to be delivered to Iowa in the next few weeks.

In the last 24 hours in Siouxland, 134 new cases were reported, and there have been four additional deaths. Hospitalizations are down today to 88 at Siouxland hospitals. Siouxland District Health says Woodbury County has had a total of 10,777 positive cases of COVID-19 and 139 deaths.

Papillion, Nebraska, has joined many of its peer cities by enacting a mask mandate to curb the coronavirus's spread. The City Council voted 7-1 on Thursday to approve the measure, a Papillion spokesman said. Councilman Steve Sunde voted against it. The mask mandate begins Saturday and will not expire until the percentage of statewide hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients drops below 20% on a 14-day rolling average. That figure would be a drop below the yellow designation on the state's COVID-19 dashboard. The last time Nebraska was below that level was Oct. 30, according to the dashboard.

Iowa Department of Education director Ann Lebo says school disruptions during the pandemic have had an impact on elementary students who're learning to read. Lebo suggests that with half the school year left, there is still time to "intervene" with students in the early grades who're having difficulty reading.
A recent study found students who cannot read at grade level when they finish third grade are four times more likely to drop out and not finish high school. Test scores from last year showed only 35% of Iowa 4th graders were considered proficient readers, meaning they could read material that is at or above their grade level.

President-elect Joe Biden is eyeing several Democrats who lost congressional reelection races last month for key positions in his administration. They include outgoing 2nd District Reprepesntative Abby Finkenauer of Iowa.
Finkenauer narrowly lost her bid for a second term in a rural northeast Iowa district. But since then, the former state legislator, who made a name promoting public employee unions, has had conversations with senior Biden transition officials about leading the Labor Department, according to Democratic sources familiar with the communications.

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