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News and resources regarding COVID-19

NEWS 5.5.21: Vaccine Passports and Push, MMIW Awareness, Farmers Market, and More

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The Iowa Senate has passed a bill that would ban state and local governments from issuing ID cards that say whether someone got a COVID-19 vaccine. It now goes to Governor Kim Reynolds for her signature.

The bill also says businesses will be ineligible for state-funded grants and contracts if they require visitors to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19. There’s an exception for health care facilities, and employers will still be allowed to ask their employees if they’ve been vaccinated. 

It passed the Senate 32 to 16, with one Democrat joining all Republicans in support of the bill. No senators spoke about the bill before the vote except for the bill’s manager, Senate President Jake Chapman. He said Iowans shouldn’t have to get a chemical injected into them to go to a baseball game or grocery store.

Gov. Kim Reynolds says the state is increasing outreach to encourage more Iowans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Around 57 percent of Iowa’s adults have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s on par with national numbers.  As of this morning, around 32% of Woodbury County residents have been fully vaccinated. Siouxland District Health is trying to determine if there are identifiable populations that are not being immunized.

Gov. Reynolds says the state is taking multiple approaches to increase vaccinations. This includes launching a statewide vaccine campaign next week and hosting pop-up clinics at well-attended events.

"We're going to continue to do the outreach and educate and inform and we're going to work on a launch of a radio television ad in multiple languages. So, we're going to continue to, to move it, and then we'll continue to evaluate where we're at."

The White House announced this week it’s aiming to have 70 percent of American adults receive at least one dose by the Fourth of July. 

The vast majority of Iowa counties declined all or part of their vaccine allocation this week due to decreasing demand.

Today, the Iowa Department of Public Health says one more Iowan has died of complications of COVID-19 with almost 140 cases.

Tyson Foods has announced it will open its “pilot” health center in Storm Lake on May 26th. Storm Lake is among six other pilot clinics. In a previous interview with IPR, Tyson spokesperson Derek Burleson said the company had planned for the clinics before the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Tyson, the clinics will offer healthcare for the more than 3,000 employees at the Storm Lake plants and their families.

State health officials say a south-central Nebraska woman who had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has died of the disease.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday in a news release that the woman was in her 80s and had underlying health conditions.

Officials with Two Rivers Health District, based in Kearney, said the woman lived in the district and was recently hospitalized for more than two weeks well after receiving two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

The news comes even as health officials pointed to a COVID-19 outbreak at a Kearney nursing home of mostly vaccinated residents as a success story. Of the 23 home residents who tested positive, only two showed any symptoms, which cleared quickly.

Gov. Kim Reynolds says she declined 95 million dollars in federal funding for COVID-19 surveillance testing in schools because the state already has sufficient funding for testing.

Reynolds says the state still has nearly 300 million dollars available for testing supplies and services from previously allocated funding. And no Iowa school districts have claimed expenses for testing to the state.

"And at some point, we can't continue to just take this money. There is a cost to taxpayers, and the amount of money that is flowing into these states because of the bad decision that some of the other states have made is unconscionable."

Several Democratic state lawmakers have criticized Reynolds for her decision saying the state should take all the pandemic support funding it’s offered.

Today, Reynolds also defended her support of banning transgender athletes from girl sports. She told reporters she wants to make sure the playing field is equal and girls have the ability to compete and qualify for scholarships.

An event takes place tonight for National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Sioux City.

The Great Plains Action Society says four out of five Native women will experience violence in their lifetime.

The Great Plains Action Society organized an evening of food, dance, song, and speakers and a ceremony for families impacted. The event is scheduled for five to seven p.m. at the Sioux City Public Museum.

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The Sioux City Farmers Market kicked off today. A downpour of raid didn’t stop a stream of people from checking out produce, plants, food, and other offerings.  

The Sioux City Farmers Market continues every Wednesday and Saturday through the end of October from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is ramping up his crusade for the meat industry by endorsing a new “beef passport” program to promote meat eating, a few weeks after he blasted Colorado’s governor for a resolution encouraging its residents to eat less.

Ricketts meat as essential to his state’s economy and the nation’s food security. He criticized “radical environmentalists” and Bill Gates for promoting alternatives, such as synthetic, lab-grown meat, and for arguing that the global meat production system isn’t sustainable.

His spoke at a downtown Lincoln steak house, where he issued his annual proclamation of May as “Beef Month”.

A local planning commission has voted against issuing a permit to allow Nebraska's first solar power plant to be built just southwest of Omaha.

The Sarpy County Planning Commission voted Monday 5-1 against the permit, which will still ultimately be decided by the Sarpy County Board.

Omaha Public Power District revealed last month that it had signed a contract to build the huge bank of solar panels on 500 acres in eastern Nebraska south of Yutan.

The County Board isn’t bound by the planning commission’s vote and is scheduled to take up the issue next Tuesday.

Several planning commission members said they felt the process to build the solar farm was being rushed.

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