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NEWS 3.22.21: Vaccination Updates, IA Broadband Funding, and Severe Weather Awareness

Iowa Department of Public Health

The Iowa Department of Public Health shows nearly a half million people have received the COVID-19 vaccine. One more Iowan has died for a total of 5,675 deaths and 216 in Woodbury County. The number of new cases has fallen to 138 with nine in Woodbury County, according to Siouxland District Health. 

Siouxland District Health recorded 8 new cases today with a 14-day test positivity rate of 7.5%. There are 18 patients being treated at Sioux City’s two hospitals. Positivity rates and hospitalizations have stayed almost the same for the past few days. Statewide 171 are hospitalized.

Credit Siouxland District Health

The local health department still has online openings for COVID-19 vaccination clinics scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday for Woodbury County residents.

Nebraska still plans to make coronavirus vaccines available to the general public by late April or early May, but Gov. Pete Ricketts says a lot of factors could change the state’s timetable.

Ricketts says the speed at which Nebraska moves through its current vaccination phase will depend on how many vaccine shipments the state gets in the next few weeks and how quickly health officials can administer them.

He says the state expects to see a big jump in single-shot vaccine shipments from drug-maker Johnson & Johnson next week, which could help speed up the massive undertaking. Nebraska is currently focused on vaccinating residents ages 50 to 64 and people with certain underlying health conditions.

Tens of thousands of additional people in South Dakota are eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. The state Department of Health opened vaccinations to another priority group today that includes firefighters, food, agricultural, and transportation workers.  The group includes approximately 227,000 South Dakotans. Currently, 37% of South Dakotans have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while almost a quarter (23%) are fully vaccinated.

The state of Iowa Monday has awarded more than $15.5 million more than a dozen broadband providers. 

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds made the announcement. The money comes from Federal CARES Act funding and will impact 21 Iowa counties and more than 2,800 homes, schools and businesses. No providers in Siouxland are included in the grant through Empower Rural Iowa. A majority of the coverage area includes the northeast and southwest corners of the state.

News release from the state of Iowa:

Iowa allocates $15 million in CARES Funds to broadband programs

DES MOINES – Today the state of Iowa has awarded 14 broadband providers with $15,542,302 in Empower Rural Iowa broadband grants made possible through Governor Reynolds allocation of federal CARES funding. These grants will impact 21 Iowa counties and more than 2,800 homes, schools, and businesses.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic only underscored the need for fast, reliable, and accessible broadband,” said Gov. Reynolds. “This investment goes directly to projects that are in significant broadband deserts. While today’s allocation will help improve broadband in more communities, we can do better. Iowa must have universal broadband access to compete and succeed in the 21st century, which is why I'm working with the legislature for significant funding over the next three years that will ensure access for all Iowans by 2025.”   

This latest grant round shows the demand for broadband grants in Iowa. More than 42 providers applied with applications valued at more than $41 million dollars. That is nearly a three to one ratio of funds requested to funds available. This demand speaks to the need to support and fund broadband infrastructure within Iowa to remain competitive in the post-Covid world.  

The $15 million dollars is the remainder of the $50 million in CARES funding Governor Reynolds designated for broadband grants from a previous round of funding. The full list of providers awarded grants can be found by going to https://ocio.iowa.gov/empower-rural-iowa-broadband-grant-program-notice-funding-availability-005

Credit State of Iowa

Tonight, the Sioux City Community School Board is expected to discuss another round of COVID-19 funding. ON Friday, the Iowa Department of Education today announced that the state is slated to receive nearly $775 million in federal relief for Pre-K-12 schools through a fund to address costs due to the pandemic.

Sioux City Community School Board Member Dan Greenwell says the school district was expected to receive an additional $43 million in aid for a total of $63.3 million.

Prosecutors have charged a northwestern Iowa man with two counts of vehicular homicide in the death of a woman who was a passenger on the utility vehicle he was driving when it crashed. The Sioux City Journal reports that 48-year-old Christopher Bosma of Lake Park is charged with vehicular homicide when driving intoxicated and vehicular homicide due to reckless driving in the July death of 34-year-old Kelsie Sturm of Lake Park. Investigators say Bosma was participating in a UTV poker ride that involved bar hopping in several towns on the day of the crash and that he had consumed eight or nine drinks before the crash.

This first Monday of spring kicks off “Severe Weather Awareness Week” for the National Weather Service. Officials say some Iowans could use a refresher course when it comes to the potential for dangerous weather

Credit Facebook/National Weather Service - Sioux Falls Office
Credit Facebook/National Weather Service - Sioux Falls Office

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