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NEWS 3.8.21: C19 Anniversary, New CDC Guidelines, SD Transgender Athlete Controversy, and More

SPM NEWS 3.8.21 - 4:32PM

Today is the one-year anniversary of the first positive cases of COVID-19 in the state of Iowa. Then were there three positive cases, since the start of Pandemic with more than 367,000 positive test results. There have been 5,559 deaths statewide and 214 in Woodbury County.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports one more death due to complications of COVID-19 and almost 140 positive cases, including eight in Woodbury County.

The 14-day test positivity rate is 6.1%. That is two-percentage points higher than the statewide average. Almost two weeks ago the local rate was 4.7%.

There are almost 170 hospitalized across the state with 15 at Sioux City’s two major medical facilities. That is an increase of seven patients since Friday.

The state launched the website vaccinate.iowa.gov to help Iowans find a vaccine provider.

Local health officials along with the Mary J. Treglia Community House organized a vaccine clinic for next Wednesday, Marth 17th. The number to call to register is (712) 258-5137. The deadline to register is March 15th.

During a news conference today Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts says the state will follow new CDC guidelines surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations and mask use.

However, he encouraged continued caution in planning family gathering for the upcoming Easter holiday on April 4th

The CDC says people who have received a second dose will be able to gather with others without masks if they wait 14 days for full effectiveness. Plus, fully vaccinated people do not need to quarantine if exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.

Nebraska officials may start using mobile sites to help expand the number of places where residents can get a coronavirus vaccines as the number of available doses increases. Gov. Pete Ricketts made the comments came as the number of new vaccinations administered continues to trend upward. Health officials vaccinated a new one-day high of 20,949 people on Thursday. Statewide, 12% of Nebraska residents who are at least 16 years old have been fully vaccinated, according to the state’s online tracking portal. Nebraska hospitals that are working through the state’s vaccination program have received 502,470 doses so far.

State health officials are reporting that South Dakota has reached 1,900 deaths due to complications from the coronavirus. Officials on Sunday confirmed two new COVID-19-related deaths in the last day, a person in their 40s and a person in their 60s. The COVID Tracking Project ranks South Dakota’s death count as the eighth highest per capita in the country at 215 deaths per 100,000 people. The daily state report included 211 new infections, bringing the total to 113,589 positive tests since the start of the pandemic. Active cases rose for a sixth straight day, from 2,109 to 2,158. Hospitalizations fell by two, to 72.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says she will sign a bill to bar transgender girls and women from participating in female sports leagues. However, whether it ultimately takes effect in the state will likely be decided in federal court. The bill passed by the Senate addresses a situation that currently does not exist in South Dakota, according to the high school athletics association. While proponents cast it as a way to “promote fairness in women’s sports,” opponents labeled it as a “political statement” that would drag the state into a legal battle.

South Dakota lawmakers have just four more days to work out most of the details in this year’s legislative session. As deadlines loom _ and issues from the budget to medical marijuana and self-defense laws remain unsettled _ many lawmakers are expecting some long nights at the Capitol in Pierre. The top issues will be settling how to best use a massive windfall of one-time funds, several controversial bills that have been revived and medical marijuana.

South Dakota hemp farmers are gearing up for the growing season while lawmakers tinker with a bill that would allow them to plant a crop this year. A key change to the original bill would permit year-round applications to grow rather than a 60-day window. Another amendment lowers the entry barrier of five outdoor acres to half an acre, and allows for indoor commercial greenhouses. South Dakota Industrial Hemp Association Vice President Derrick Dohmann says dropping the 60-day application limit would provide a boost to the state’s launch of the crop. He says he has been working with hemp farmers in North Dakota, Minnesota and elsewhere to learn about the industry.

Iowa Representative Randy Feenstra’s been assigned to serve on two House Agriculture subcommitees. They are Livestock and Foreign Agriculture and Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit.

The Republican from Hull is serving his first term in Congress after several years in the Iowa Legislature.

News release from Iowa Representative Randy Feenstra:

Feenstra to Serve on Two Agriculture Subcommittees

WASHINGTON -- Today, Rep. Randy Feenstra (IA-04) was assigned to serve on two House Agriculture subcommittees: Livestock and Foreign Agriculture and Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit (CEEC).

The Livestock and Foreign Agriculture subcommittee has jurisdiction over policies, statutes, and markets relating to all livestock, poultry, and dairy; the inspection, marketing, and promotion of such commodities and products; animal welfare; grazing; foreign agricultural assistance; and trade promotion. The Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit subcommittee has jurisdiction over policies, statutes, and markets relating to commodity exchanges; agricultural credit; rural development; energy, including production of ethanol and biofuels; and rural electrification.

“These two subcommittees cover many policy areas that are important to Iowans in the 4th District. I’m looking forward to giving farmers a seat at the table on these subcommittees, where we will have significant discussions on everything from trade and pricing transparency to biodiesel production and rural development,” said Rep. Feenstra.

According to the USDA, Iowa’s 4th Congressional District is number one in hog and pig production, second in overall ag production and number of farm producers, and third largest in livestock, poultry and their products. Iowa also leads the nation in biodiesel production.

To learn more about the subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, click here

To learn more about the subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit, click here.

The commission charged with overseeing the state’s redistricting process was not able to reach a consensus on choosing a fifth member during a meeting today (Monday).

Under state law, the board was supposed to pick the final member three weeks ago. The commission is split over whether the nominee should have more statehouse or public engagement experience.

Member Deidre DeJear said she nominated Terese Grant, the president of the Iowa League of Women Voters, for her work in public outreach.

“I think it's important that we make sure there are folks that that know how to engage the public and can seek out that public opinion of whatever these maps look like the future.”

How the state’s redistricting process will be conducted remains unclear, due to critical delays in the Census Bureau releasing its data, because of the pandemic.

Police officers are shown arresting Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri after a Black Lives Matter protest she was covering on May 31, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa, was dispersed by tear gas. Sahouri is set to stand trial on Monday, March 8, 2021, on misdemeanor charges, a case that prosecutors have pursued despite international condemnation from advocates for press freedom.
Credit Katie Akin via AP

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A journalist is being tried on charges stemming from her coverage of a protest against racial injustice in Iowa last year. Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri was pepper-sprayed and jailed in May while reporting on a clash between protesters and police. She is charged with failure to disperse and interference with official acts. Advocates for journalism and human rights in the U.S. and abroad have pressed Iowa authorities to drop the charges, arguing Sahouri was simply doing her job. But prosecutors in the office of Polk County Attorney John Sarcone have pressed forward with the case. A six-member jury was selected Monday morning.

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