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NEWS 12.14.20: C-19 Vaccine Arrives in All 3 Siouxland States, Electorial College Update and More

Siouxland District Health Department

The first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in all three Siouxland States.

Siouxland District Health says Woodbury County will receive almost 2,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the next few days for front-line health care workers.  Director Kevin Grieme admits the vaccine will only cover about 50% initially needed.

Other doses will come in phases and the national pharmacy network will distribute additional doses to long-term care facilities.

When the vaccine by Moderna gets the go-ahead there will be 400 doses for EMS workers in Woodbury County.

Dakota County isn’t scheduled to receive the vaccine yet.  But, when it does, health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities and staff will get top priority.  The vaccine is estimated to be available to the general public in April.

Local health officials say watch out for scams surrounding the vaccine, including phone calls from groups claiming to provide access for a credit card payment.  They say when the vaccine is available to high-risk groups, local doctors will make decisions on who will get vaccinated.

The Director of Siouxland District Health says recent restrictions are working as levels of new infections and hospitalizations are on their way down locally.  There were 43 new cases in Woodbury County reported on Monday for almost 11,500 since the start of the pandemic.  There have been 145 deaths and 52 deaths in Dakota County.  The number of hospitalizations have fallen in the past two weeks from 108 to 59 today with 39 battling COVID-19 only.

A local public service annoucement was recently released to urge the public to wear masks and take precautions to avoid spreading the virus.

A small group of health care workers were the first people in Iowa to get the coronavirus vaccine, kicking off a months-long campaign to deliver shots to state residents.

The arrival of the vaccine marked a milestone in the fight against a virus that has killed one in roughly every 964 residents in Iowa, infected hundreds of thousands more, filled up hospitals and closed many public school buildings.

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics received 1,000 doses of the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and issued the first of two doses of the vaccine.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says the state is returning $21 million of federal coronavirus aid money it planned to spend on upgrading state information technology systems. Reynolds says she has directed the Iowa Department of Management to return the money to the state’s virus relief fund by Friday. The funds were initially allocated for payments related to Workday, a cloud-based human resources, finance, and planning system being implemented to modernize the state’s IT infrastructure. She says U.S. Treasury officials initially indicated it was an allowable expense but is now saying it is not. Iowa received $1.25 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and must allocate the remaining $47.3 million by Dec. 30.

Nebraska has received its first shipments of the new coronavirus vaccine and expects to get more than 100,000 doses this month to treat front-line health care workers. Dr. Gary Anthone, Nebraska’s chief medical officer, says the initial shipments had arrived at two hospitals as of mid-morning Monday. State officials expected to get all 15,600 of the first week's doses in the coming 48 hours. Nebraska’s distribution plan calls for the first vaccine doses to go to front-line health workers and other key professions, including meatpacking workers and teachers. Gov. Pete Ricketts says the general public likely won’t be eligible until April.

The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in Nebraska dipped below 700 Sunday for the first time since early November, but the total remains high. The state said 692 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, down from 711 the day before. That is the first time since Nov. 4 that the number of hospitalizations was below 700, but the total is still triple what it was on Oct. 1 when 227 people were being treated in hospitals. Nebraska reported 1,173 new virus cases and eight new deaths Sunday to give the state 148,861 cases and 1,373 deaths since the pandemic began.

The South Dakota Department of Health says the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in the state where medical personnel will begin to administer the doses. The Pfizer vaccine will be given to Avera Health in Sioux Falls and Monument Health in Rapid City Monday. Sanford Health was due to receive its initial doses on Tuesday, DOH said. The state is expected to get about 7,800 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use last Friday. The vaccine requires two doses administered about three weeks apart.

Another South Dakota state lawmaker has tested positive for the coronavirus after attending Gov. Kristi Noem’s budget address last week and visiting the governor’s mansion. Sen. Reynold Nesiba says he was tested for COVID-19 on Friday and got the positive results Saturday. The 54-year-old Sioux Falls Democrat says he has experienced minor symptoms. Nesiba said he suspected he contracted the virus while attending a committee meeting last Monday or during the budget address on the House floor Tuesday. Sen. Helene Duhamel, a Republican from Rapid City, became ill and tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Nebraska officially split its Electoral College votes for the 2nd time in history on Monday, awarding one of its five votes to President-elect Joe Biden and the remaining four to President Donald Trump. Biden won the popular vote in the Omaha area’s 2nd Congressional District, a feat last achieved by Barack Obama during his first presidential run in 2008. The vote in a half-full state Capitol hearing room drew cheers from audience members when elector Precious McKesson, a Democratic Party activist, cast her votes for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Republicans consistently dominate in Nebraska’s statewide races and rural congressional districts, but Democrats have shown they can compete in Lincoln and Omaha.

Iowa’s six Republican electors cast their votes for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, affirming their win in an election that saw record turnout and victories in 93 of the state’s 99 counties. Gov. Kim Reynolds presided over the meeting at the Iowa Capitol, where the six Republican activists filled out ballots Monday. The vote was a formality since the electors were required by law to vote for the candidate who won the state popular vote. Trump won the state 53% to Joe Biden’s 45%. A record 1.7 million voters cast ballots, for a turnout rate of more than 76%.

South Dakota’s three presidential electors awarded the state’s electoral votes on Monday to President Donald Trump. The state’s electors, which included Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden and Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, met at the Capitol building in Pierre Monday afternoon. South Dakota GOP Chairman Dan Lederman replaced Republican Gov. Kristi Noem as the state’s third elector after the governor decided not to participate last week. Trump received nearly 62% of the popular vote in South Dakota, defeating Democratic nominee Joe Biden by more than 100,000 votes. The state has chosen the Republican nominee for president in every general election since 1964.

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