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NEWS 5.6.21: C19 Latest, NE Legislature Updates, Low River Levels, and More


The Iowa Department of Public Health added two more deaths due to complications in a 24-hours period and more than 700 new cases with 15 in Woodbury County and a positivity rate of 3.8%, slightly below the statewide average.

Meanwhile, health officials in Winnebago, Nebraska continue to report high numbers of vaccinated tribal members. Currently, 70% have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That rate does not include a clinic that took place yesterday.

The Executive Director of Siouxland District Health says as of yesterday morning 32% of county residents have received both doses of the vaccine.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in South Dakota has fallen substantially. The Department of health says 90 patients are getting treatment, down a dozen from the day before.

Nebraska lawmakers have given initial approval to watered-down coronavirus protections for meatpacking workers, but the measure faces opposition even though many plants are already following the proposed requirements. Senators on Thursday advanced the bill through the first of three required votes, but not with enough votes to override a veto if Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts objects. A similar measure stalled in the Legislature last year. The new bill eliminates a 6-foot separation requirement for line workers as well as tougher ventilation standards, but it would still mandate masks, paid leave for workers who test positive and the opportunity to get tested on company time.

Nebraska lawmakers are moving ahead with a plan to create a special commission that would look at the way the state’s public K-12 schools are funded. The measure advanced, 37-5, despite opposition from some lawmakers who see it as a way for school lobbyists to secure more money for their districts. Gov. Pete Ricketts has expressed concerns as well, saying he doesn’t want a “rubber stamp” commission that would help build momentum for more spending. Lawmakers have sparred over the issue because many want to lower local property taxes, and Nebraska’s K-12 public schools are the biggest consumer of that revenue.

Officials may have to increase the amount of water released into the Missouri River over the next couple months to ensure there is enough water in the river for cities that rely on it for water and for barge traffic. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday that significantly less water is expected to flow into the river this year because conditions remain so dry and snowpack is below normal levels. April was an exceptionally dry month the region. Because of that, officials said that only about 69% of the normal amount of water is expected to flow into the Missouri River this year.

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