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NEWS 4.13.21: J & J Vaccine, NE Gov. on Migrant Children, SCPD Policy Change, Music Award, and More

Associated Press

Health officials in all three Siouxland states have temporary stopped use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, following CDC and FDA recommendations. This move comes after six women experienced severe and rare blood clots, resulting in one death. One case was diagnosed in Nebraska.

Health officials in South Dakota say no adverse cases were reported in nearly 16,000 doses of the J&J vaccine.  More than 78 thousand doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in Iowa.

News release from the state of Nebraska:

On Thursday, April 8th, DHHS, the Douglas County Health Department, and Nebraska Medicine consulted with CDC and FDA about a rare and severe type of blood clot diagnosed in a Nebraska resident. On Tuesday, April 13th, CDC and FDA released a joint statement recommending a pause on Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccinations nationwide while more investigation is completed.

Vaccine safety is closely monitored by healthcare providers and local, state, and federal partners. While only six instances of this severe clotting event have been identified among approximately 6.8 million who have received the J&J/Janssen vaccine across the US, the pause is a transparent and deliberate decision to allow time for a thorough review and investigation. 

DHHS is communicating the pause to local health departments, healthcare providers, and pharmacies across the state. Any potential adverse reactions to vaccines should be reported into the CDC's vaccine adverse events reporting system (VAERS, https://vaers.hhs.gov/).

Please note that at this time there are no recommendations to pause the use of the other two vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna. These two vaccines should be provided in place of the Johnson and Johnson /Janssen vaccine until further notice.

For more information, see the official FDA-CDC release:

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/joint-cdc-and-fda-statement-johnson- johnson-covid-19-vaccine

The Iowa Department of Public Health showed another day with no new deaths due to complications of COVID-19. There were 445 new cases, with 10 more in Woodbury County. There have been 219 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Dakota County added four more deaths on Monday for a total of 71.

Credit Siouxland District Health

Minnesota health officials are urging those who attended a recent youth wrestling tournament in South Dakota to get tested for COVID-19 after a number of wrestlers contracted the coronavirus. Officials have been concerned about youth sports fueling an increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. Positive infections have been found in 16 of the 2,000 wrestlers plus spectators from Minnesota who were in Sioux Falls for a state meet held by the Northland Youth Wrestling Association March 31-April 3. The tournament, which involved wrestlers from 52 Minnesota counties, was moved from Rochester to Sioux Falls where coronavirus restrictions for sporting events are less stringent.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts says he has rejected a federal request to help house unaccompanied migrant children. The Republican governor says he disagrees with the Biden administration’s policy of allowing children to go to “sponsors” in the United States, usually parents or close relatives, while they pursue asylum cases in heavily backlogged immigration courts.

He says he wants the state's resources used for children already in Nebraska. Ricketts says federal officials should instead work with Central American governments to reunite the children with their families in their home countries. His statement came days after Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds made a similar announcement.

The Sioux City Police Department changed its policy when it comes to tracking show of force incidents.

A recent report by the Iowa Department of Public Safety showed a significant increase in force used by Iowa officers in 2020. There was an 83% in one year. 

The Sioux City Police Department started tracking use of force incidents starting on April 1st. Before then, they only recorded cases of eluding. In 2019, 68 drivers drove away from officers, in 2020 the number rose to 78.

In a statement released to Siouxland Public Media, the department says no event led to the change. However, they added the policy to stay ahead of national standards, improve community service, transparency, and accountability.

Full statement from the Sioux City Police Department:

There was no event that precipitated our change in policy and it was something that we took up ourselves. The policy on show of force was changed for a couple of reasons.

As an accredited agency, we are continually reviewing and changing our policies to ensure that we are ahead of national standards. We are continually looking for ways to improve our service to the community and strengthen our organization and processes.  

Secondly, we wanted to document times when force was shown as part of a de-escalation effort. By not keeping track of situations were a display of force occurred, it could present the false impression that every time a tool or weapon was displayed, it was employed. We know that this is not the reality and usually, the display of force does not result in in an officer having to use that instrument to overcome resistance. Most often, when an officer displays force, it helps gain volunteer compliance from hostile, non-compliant, or resistive subjects. 

Next, it is also a way to ensure that these displays of force are within policy and that we hold ourselves accountable. Each incident will be reviewed by the officer’s chain of command to ensure that the display was within policy and necessary. It provides documentation to aide supervisors in providing feedback and guidance to their officers during these encounters.

Lastly, this also provides us with vital data to ensure that we are providing our officers with appropriate training in displays of force. Our command has an obligation to ensure that officers are trained and equipped to handle high-stress encounters and have methods to gain voluntary compliance without force when possible.

The funeral will be held Friday morning for Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Jim Smith, who was killed while trying to arrest a man barricaded in his Grundy Center home.

The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Independence Community High School. The public is welcome to attend and masks are required. Smith, a 27-year-veteran of the patrol, was shot and killed April 9 during a standoff with 41-year-old Michael Thomas Lang. Authorities have charged Lang with first-degree murder. He remains hospitalized.

Two Iowa senators gave emotional speeches on the Senate floor today in remembrance of Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith, who was killed on the job last Friday.

According to the department of public safety, Smith was shot and killed while trying to make an arrest in Grundy Center.

Senator Craig Johnson of Independence says he knew Smith personally because their daughters played volleyball together. Johnson says Smith loved God, his family, and being a state trooper.

“The last time I spoke with Jim, he was sitting down to give blood, and he was dressed as the trooper was. I remember thinking at that moment, ‘what more is this guy willing to give?’ That is Jim Smith. Jim, thank you for your service, and may we all be better for knowing you.” 

Public funeral services for Smith are scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Independence.

A former Sioux City plastic surgeon faces up to five years in prison after he pleaded guilty yesterday in a federal court in Michigan to falsifying patient records in Michigan. The Sioux City Journal reports sentencing is set for August.  But, he could still face civil action.

Dr. Adam Smith worked in Michigan before moving to Sioux City to practice with Tri-State Specialists. He now lives in North Carolina.

Smith surrendered his medical license in Iowa back in February after the Iowa Medical Board charged him with professional incompetency and unethical conduct. He faces several lawsuits in Woodbury County. Former patients reached out to Siouxland Public Media to say Dr. Smith botched their surgeries

Gov. Kristi Noem has sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking that he intervene and allow a Fourth of July fireworks display at Mount Rushmore. The National Park Service has denied a permit for the fireworks this year, citing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, tribal opposition and the environment. Fireworks returned to Mount Rushmore last Fourth of July after concerns about wildfires cancelled similar displays since 2009. Noem’s request comes after the national memorial was recently closed for several days because of a large wildfire at its doorstep. 

Omaha Public Power District has signed a contract to build the state's first solar power plant in eastern Nebraska south of Yutan. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the utility signed the contract last week to build an 81-megawatt solar farm on 500 acres in Saunders County, with construction to begin next year. The contract was signed despite some opposition from some residents in the area, who fear it will become an eyesore and lower property values. The project would be the largest solar farm in Nebraska and is the first step toward OPPD’s plan to provide 600 megawatts of solar power. OPPD says the facility, dubbed Platteview Solar, would have the capacity to generate enough electricity to power 14,000 homes.

Two Iowa rivers are among the nation’s most endangered, according to an annual report released by an advocacy group today (Tuesday). The Lower Missouri and theRaccoon Rivers are among the 10 most endangered in the U.S., according to the group American Rivers.

Ted Corrigan is the CEO of the Des Moines Water Works, which has struggled for years with agricultural pollutants like nitrates in the Raccoon, one of its main drinking water sources. Corrigan says he’s not surprised the Raccoon has made the list.

“The Raccoon River has been impaired for both nutrients and bacteria for many years. It’s a source of drinking water for 500,000 people in Central Iowa and the combination of those two things I think makes it a good candidate for the list unfortunately.”

The group is calling on local, state and federal officials to do more to address flood management on the Missouri and agricultural runoff into the Raccoon.

News release from the Sioux City Community School District:

The Sioux City Community School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.  This is the fifth year the District has earned this national recognition.  

The Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.  

This award recognizes that the Sioux City Community School District is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.   

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. In a series of landmark studies by scientists and researchers at Northwestern University, a link was found between students in community music programs and life-long academic success, including higher high school graduation rates and college attendance. In another study from the University, it was discovered that the benefits of early exposure to music education improve how the brain processes and assimilates sounds, a trait that lasts well into adulthood.  

Learn More: https://www.nammfoundation.org/what-we-do/best-communities-music-education  

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