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NEWS 12.21.20: COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations Fall, Vaccine Myths and Christmas Star

No new deaths were reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health in the past 24-hours that ended this morning at 10 a.m.  Six-hundred more Iowans tested positive for the virus.  Almost 3,600 Iowans have died, including two more in Woodbury County, for 159 deaths locally and 25 new cases.

Even though no deaths were added in Iowa today.  On, Sunday health officials recorded another 138 deaths due to the coronavirus.  The high death toll follows two days when no deaths were reported.

Officials have said there is a lag between when a person dies and when it is reported. Over the past week, Iowa has been reporting an average of almost 46 deaths per day.

Thirty-nine of Iowa’s 99 counties currently have an average positive rate for the last two weeks of more than 15%. That list is topped by Harrison County at more than 23.5%.  Woodbury County’s 14-day rate is 15%.

Hospitalizations at Sioux City’s two medical facilities did increase today by a half dozen patients today for 56 in all.  But, that is about half of the record high reached on December 1st.

The latest virus numbers continued to improve in Nebraska.

The state said almost 600 people were being treated in hospitals for COVID-19 on Sunday, which was down from the day before.

That number has been steadily declining since setting a record of 987 on Nov. 20, but it remains more than 2.5 times higher than what it was on Oct. 1.

Currently, 14% of the state’s hospital beds are occupied by coronavirus patients. If the seven-day rolling average of that figure remains below 15%, the state may further relax its social distancing restrictions. 

The number of COVID-19 cases in South Dakota over the last two weeks continued to fall compared to the rest of the country, although the state’s death count still remains high on a per capita basis.

The state that had been among the worst in the country for the coronarius in late summer and fall now ranks 16th for new cases per capita over the last two weeks.

The state added 20 more deaths on Monday for a total of 1,381 deaths, including 30 in Union County, 60 for Lincoln and 11 in Clay County, South Dakota.  

The COVID Tracking Project ranks the state seventh highest per capita at 153 deaths per 100,000 people.

There were almost 350 additional cases recorded since Sunday for a total of almost 95,000.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Lincoln doctor who works for the Nebraska National Guard says he's optimistic that the pandemic is nearing an end as vaccine shipments arrive, but he warns the state’s situation will remain “very tenuous” until doses are widely available. Dr. Kevin Reichmuth, a pulmonologist, made the comments as he sought to dispel myths about the new coronavirus vaccines that have circulated on social media. Reichmuth was among the first Nebraska residents to get vaccinated for the coronavirus last week. Reichsmuth spoke as part of an effort to correct inaccurate claims about the new vaccines, including statements that the drugs cause infertility, contain a microchip and trigger genetic changes in people who get the shot.

Weathercasters say we should have clear skies tonight to view a one-in-a-life time planetary conjunction.

Jupiter will pass very close to Saturn after sunset forming what is being called a “Christmas Star”.  Sundown takes place at 4:56 this afternoon in Sioux City. 

The last time the two gas giants looked this close together was during Galileo's time in the 17th century. But it occurred close to the sun and was hard to see. Jupiter and Saturn's merger in the 13th century was considerably closer and in plain view. To see it Monday, go out a little after sunset and look to the southwest. Jupiter will be the brighter of the two. Despite appearances, they'll actually be more than 450 million miles apart.

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