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News and resources regarding COVID-19

NEWS 5.4.21: New C19 Variant in IA, Cases Down in NE, Sioux City Graduations, and More

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SPM NEWS 5.4.21 - 5:32PM

State health officials have confirmed two cases of a COVID-19 variant, commonly known as the India variant, in Iowa.

The cases were identified in two adults in Jefferson County in southeast Iowa.

Officials say they are still learning about the characteristics of the strain. But they say there is no evidence it is more easily transmitted or more likely to cause severe illness.

The UK and Brazilian COVID-19 variants also have been previously identified in the state. These strains are believed to be more easily transmitted. But scientists say all approved vaccines are effective against them.

The state of Iowa reported no new deaths due to complications of COVID-19 in the past 24-hours, there were almost 400 new cases with nine more in Woodbury County.

The number of new virus cases in Nebraska has declined to levels not seen since last July but the pace of vaccinations is also slowing down across the state. Nebraska reported almost 1,200 new cases during the seven days that ended on Saturday.

The state said more than 70,000 vaccine doses were administered last week. But that is significantly below the mid-April peak of more than 211,0oo doses in a week.

The U.S. Army Reserve has blocked the promotion of South Dakota’s attorney general because of his role in the death of a man who was struck while walking along a rural highway last year.

Jason Ravnsborg last month announced on social media that he was being promoted to the rank of full colonel.

The Army Reserve says the promotion has been flagged and won’t be submitted to the U.S. Senate for confirmation until charges against Ravnsborg are resolved.

He is facing three misdemeanor charges after he struck and killed Joe Boever in September. Ravnsborg has pleaded not guilty.

A message left at Ravnsborg’s office was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Former Morningside College professor and Republican political operative Sam Clovis has sued a Sioux City hospital and several doctors for negligence he says led to his paralysis.

The Sioux City Journal reports Clovis and his wife say a number of doctors failed to diagnose a thoracic spinal cord abscess in 2019. Because of their negligence, the lawsuit said, the former Sioux City talk radio host and policy adviser to former President Donald Trump sustained spinal cord damage that left him a paraplegic who needs around-the-clock care.

Iowa is expected to see more refugees resettled in the state after President Joe Biden increased the cap this week to more than sixty-two thousand. As of right now, the state doesn’t yet have the proper infrastructure to handle an increased capacity. That’s according to the chief of the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services Mak Suceska. But, he says, they’ve already been working on it.

“We will have to be intentional in in mitigating some of those concerns and barriers. And then once that is addressed, we can move along accordingly. So there has to be a lot of pieces in place. It's not as easy as it may seem.”

Suceska says even though the declaration was just signed, the state likely won’t see a drastic increase right away. Iowa might see a change closer to the end of the year.

Gov. Kristi Noem is lauding her efforts to spend millions of dollars in government funds on providing broadband internet access to revitalize South Dakota’s rural communities. The Republican governor on Tuesday toured a site near the city of Brandon where a $700,000 state program subsidy helped to complete a $1.7 million project to get high-speed internet to 170 homes. Although the area is close to the state’s largest city, Sioux Falls, a resident says the previously spotty internet coverage had been a headache. Noem hopes a $100 million subsidy program will spur projects like that statewide.

Second District Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa is among 18 Republicans in the U.S. House who are health care providers urging Americans hesitant about the vaccine to get a COVID-19 shot.

The GOP Doctors group posted a video online today. 

Miller-Meeks is an eye doctor and the former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. Radio Iowa reports Miller-Meeks has been to several Covid vaccination clinics in the second congressional district, administering the shots herself.

South Dakota’s six public universities will no longer require people to wear masks beginning next week. The state Board of Regents last July mandated that masks be worn in all public indoor spaces on campuses, at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic showed steep growth in South Dakota and other Midwest states. At the suggestion of college presidents, facemasks will be optional starting on Monday. Regents executive director and CEO Brian Maher says administrators will continue to monitor conditions and make “the best decisions possible” with information available to them. Regents announced earlier that campus operations should return to normal in the fall.

The Sioux City Community School District announced plans to hold in-person graduations at the Tyson Events Center. All three high schools will hold their events on Saturday, May 29th at different times. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic all who attend will be required to wear a mask. To allow for social distancing each student will receive four tickets to share with family and friends. There will be a live stream available to watch the ceremonies as well.

News release from the Sioux City Community School District:

Sioux City Community High Schools

To Hold Graduation Ceremonies May 29

Sioux City, IA – Each Sioux City Community School District high school will hold a graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 29 at the Tyson Events Center. North High School will hold the ceremony at 11 am. West High School will hold the ceremony at 2:30 pm. East High School will hold the ceremony at 6 pm. The doors open to ticket holders one hour before each ceremony.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to heightened safety practices for this year’s ceremonies. All guests, staff and graduates will be required to wear a mask. To allow for social distancing, capacity is limited. Each student will be given four tickets to share with family and friends. Only graduates, staff involved in the ceremonies, and ticket holders will be permitted to enter the Tyson Events Center. The ceremonies will be live streamed. The link for the live stream will be available on the District website (siouxcityschools.org) as the ceremonies approach.

During each ceremony, a professional photographer will take a portrait photo of each graduate, which will be available for graduates and families to purchase. Following each ceremony, a recessional will be held to guide patrons to an appropriate location for family and friends to gather and capture memorable photos.

Because the Tyson Events Center is secured with metal detectors, all patrons of the graduation ceremonies will be required to pass through the detectors upon entry into the event. In accordance with Tyson Events Center guidelines, and out of respect to all graduates and patrons, the following items will not be permitted:

  • Silly string
  • Cowbells
  • Air horns
  • Large bags / backpacks, coolers or boxes
  • Bottles, cans, glass containers, liquid containers or other projectiles
  • Any food product, coolers or backpacks
  • Laser devices
  • Projectiles
  • Skates, skateboards, Heelies or scooters
  • Strollers
  • Alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Tobacco of any kind
  • Animals, other than service animals
  • Signs/posters
  • Any item or action deemed to challenge public safety
  • No Weapons of any kind, including Lawful Concealable Firearms
  • Any other item deemed unacceptable by Tyson Events Center Management or the Event Producer

This year, over 900 graduates will be recognized during the three ceremonies. Names of graduates and ceremony awards will be released at a later time.

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