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1.19.21: C-19 Vaccine Distribution Concerns, IA Positivity Rates Fall, Gun Rights & Abortion Fight


Nebraska teachers and meatpacking workers worry it will take longer for essential workers like them to get the coronavirus vaccine now that the next group of people to be vaccinated has been expanded to include everyone 65 and older.  An education association leader says teachers are disappointed to hear they won’t get their shots until March at the earliest.

The Dakota County Health Department will be running an COVID Vaccine Immunization Drive through tomorrow from 9am to 2pm by appointment only. Anyone over the age of 65 has been asked to contact the local health department to get on the schedule in the future.

Some health care providers in South Dakota are cautioning that vulnerable people in rural areas could be left behind in the rush. South Dakota has vaccinated 6.5% of the population, one of the highest rates in the country.  The state is starting to vaccinate people 80 and older.

Today, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported eight more Iowans died of complications of COVID-19 with almost 1,000 new cases, including 15 more in Woodbury County.

The 14-day test positivity rate for Woodbury County fell another 1.1% today.  The current rate is 12.2% Eighteen out of Iowa’s 99 counties are above the 15% threshold that had been set up by the Iowa Educational Association for a school district to apply for on-line learning only. Monona County is number six in Iowa with 18.8%, followed by Lyon with 18.4%.

Credit Siouxland District Health

The statewide average stands at 12%.

A proposal to add gun rights language to the Iowa Constitution has advanced in the Iowa House of Representatives. 

Republican lawmakers and the Iowa Firearms Coalition argue this is needed to protect against future gun restrictions in the state. Democrats and gun control activists say it could be used to dismantle Iowa’s current gun laws, like the requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon.  

The proposal moves to the full House Public Safety Committee. The Iowa Legislature passed the measure in 2019, and they’ll likely pass it again this year. Then the proposed constitutional amendment goes to a vote of the people in 2022.

Iowa Republican lawmakers have renewed their effort to amend the Iowa Constitution to say it doesn’t protect abortion rights. It’s a response to a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that protects a fundamental right to abortion in the state.

Maggie DeWitte is executive director of Iowans for Life.

“I believe the people of Iowa and not unelected judges of the state supreme court should decide how Iowa regulates abortion. These radical judges took the rights away from all Iowans and thereby preventing common sense protection for women and children.”

Republicans on a House subcommittee advanced the measure today. If passed by two general assemblies and approved by Iowa voters, the amendment would allow for more abortion restrictions in Iowa. Abortion rights supporters say it could even lead to banning abortion in Iowa if the U.S. Supreme Court also overturns the federal precedent that legalized abortion

News release from Planned Parenthood:

Des Moines, IA — This morning, the Iowa House Judiciary Subcommittee passed legislation to take away Iowans’ constitutional right to safe and legal abortion. If enacted, the amendment would clear the way for the state to restrict or ban safe, legal abortions.

"Let’s not kid ourselves. This is a coordinated attempt by anti-abortion politicians in Des Moines to ultimately ban safe and legal abortion in Iowa,” said Jamie Burch Elliott, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa. “These extremist lawmakers have made it clear they care more about taking away the reproductive freedoms of Iowans than tackling the hard issues facing Iowa, like the pandemic and violent attacks on our democracy.”

This is the third consecutive year anti-abortion lawmakers have introduced legislation to take away the right to abortion in the state constitution. Last year, the Iowa Senate approved its passage, but it stalled out in the Iowa House. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has voiced her support for the amendment. 

Enacting a state constitutional amendment is a multi-year process. Both the House and Senate need to approve the proposed amendment by the end of the 2022 legislative session. Both chambers would have to pass it again after the 2022 election, and the amendment would then go on the ballot for Iowa voters. The governor’s signature is not needed. 

“Since we know that Iowans oppose this amendment and will reject it at the ballot box, it is unconscionable that they have denied Iowans the ability to be heard in the legislative process today,” Burch Elliott said. There is no logical reason for legislators to be wasting valuable time and resources when they should be focused on stabilizing our state and getting Iowans the health care they need.  Instead, they’ve prioritized this divisive proposal that meddles in private health care decisions that should be left to patients and their doctors.”

Iowa Republican lawmakers have introduced 70 bills since 2011 aimed at reducing Iowans’ access to abortions, despite a majority of Iowans supporting access to safe and legal abortion. 

Politicians’ relentless attacks on sexual and reproductive health have decimated Iowans’ access to affordable health care. As a result, unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections are spiking in Iowa.

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