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NEWS 2.18.21: SD Attorney General Charged, NE Vaccine Update, Economic Improvement, and More

Associated Press

South Dakota’s attorney general has been charged with three misdemeanors including careless driving after he hit and killed a man with his car. Jason Ravnsborg, a native of Cherokee, Iowa was charged today. Ravnsborg initially told authorities he thought he had struck a deer while driving home from a Republican fundraiser on September 12. Ravnsborg has said he didn’t know he struck a man until he returned to the scene and found the body the next day. The man’s relatives have questioned Ravnsborg’s account. A toxicology report taken roughly 15 hours after the collision found no alcohol in his system.

Nebraska’s Governor says the general population could start receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as April or May.

Pete Ricketts credited the move to an increase of doses, including expected approval of a vaccine by Johnson and Johnson.

Weather has delayed some vaccination clinics and caused backlogs with order.  Next week the state is expected to receive more than 37,000 doses.

However, so far pharmacies have not received vaccines through the Retail Pharmacy Program. 

The state will start vaccinating ages 50 to 64, followed by 16 to 40. Ricketts did admit the state needs to improve its national ranking with vaccine distribution.

The state estimated that 6.5% of Nebraska’s population has now received both required doses of the vaccine. Nebraska has distributed roughly 74% of the vaccine doses it has received.

As of Wednesday Iowa, was in 27th place among states with about 11% of its residents having received one or more vaccine dose

House and Senate Republicans are fast-tracking a bill that would shorten Iowa’s early voting period from 29 days to 18 and make other wide-ranging changes to the state’s election laws.

The bill, which would also ban county officials from sending absentee ballot applications to voters, was introduced Tuesday. It got advanced through subcommittees yesterday (Wednesday) and through full committees today (Thursday).

The chair of the House State Government Committee says a public hearing is planned for Monday evening, and the House may vote on the bill as soon as next Wednesday. This timeline is much faster than what is typical for passing legislation.

A new monthly survey of bankers suggests the economy is slowly improving in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, including all three Siouxland states. However, employment remains below the level it was at before the coronavirus pandemic began last year. The overall index for the region increased to 53.8 in February from January’s 52. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy.  

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