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NEWS 5.18.21: Mask Changes, Farmers to Families Food Giveaway, Derailment Cleanup, and More


Iowa school districts are reviewing their policies on mask wearing after the Iowa Department of Public Health issued new guidance late last week.

However, several major school district, including Sioux City are still requiring them.

The Department of Public Health says masks should be optional and that kids exposed to COVID-19 should not have to stay home.

That’s in conflict with the CDC which says masking and quarantine should continue until more adults and children are vaccinated.

Starting today Hy-Vee no longer requires fully vaccinated customer and employees to wear face covering in stores, unless it’s required by local ordinances. That’s according to a news release issued by the grocery. It goes on to day face coverings continue to be strongly recommended for customers who are not fully vaccinated. Walmart and Target also announced vaccinated customers and employees no longer need to wear masks.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported no new deaths due to complications of COVID-19. There are almost 200 new cases with one added in Woodbury County.

There is one more case in Woodbury County. Since the start of the pandemic 6006 residents have died of complications of the illness with almost 40% resident of long-term care facilities.

Credit Siouxland District Health

The number of South Dakota residents receiving an initial dose of a COVID-19 vaccination has slowed dramatically in recent weeks. That's prompting medical experts and community leaders to turn to personal conversations to battle misinformation around getting a shot. Just over 4,000 people statewide received their first shot last week. That's a big drop-off from the end of March when the state recorded a high mark of over 26,000 people receiving their first shot in a week. But medical providers are planning the next phase of vaccinations around personal conversations and convenience, hoping that trusted doctors and faith leaders can assuage fears.

Cleanup is ongoing in northwest Iowa after a train carrying hazardous materials derailed Sunday. 

A Union Pacific train was headed to Nebraska when 47 train cars derailed near Sibley in. The company is working to remove the derailed cars from the scene and then repair any damage to the tracks.

An investigation into the cause of the derailment is underway. Witnesses reported a bridge was damaged underneath the train. A spokesperson for Union Pacific says the bridge may have been damaged during the derailment, but it did not collapse.

Help is on the way for families in the Sioux City area struggling to feed their families. A Farmers to Families Food Box giveaway is scheduled this Thursday and next Thursday at 10 a.m. in the parking lot of the Sunnybrook Community Church. The drive-through event is hosted by the Hope Center and Community Action Agency of Siouxland. The Executive Director of the Community Action Agency says food insecurity has remained high in Siouxland through-out the pandemic.  

The Farmers to Families Food Box Program through the USDA has helped deliver nearly 170 million boxes of fresh produce, milk, dairy and cooked meats in the last year nationwide.

Nebraska lawmakers have rejected state-mandated coronavirus protections for meatpacking workers. Opponents argued that slaughterhouses have already taken precautions and that the pandemic is nearly over. Supporters say it was necessary to ensure that all plants are keeping their employees safe. Lawmakers voted, 25-18, on Tuesday to sideline the measure for the rest of the year. The bill faced an uphill battle because of concerns raised by Gov. Pete Ricketts. Lawmakers would have needed at least 30 supportive votes to override a veto. An estimated 7,382 Nebraska meatpacking workers have tested positive since the pandemic began, 256 have been hospitalized and 28 have died.  

A jury has been selected for the first-degree murder trial of the farm laborer charged with killing a University of Iowa student while she was out running in July 2018. Cristhian Bahena Rivera is accused in the death of 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts in July 2018. Opening statements are scheduled Wednesday morning at the Scott County Courthouse. The trial is expected to last through next week. A prosecutor and Bahena Rivera’s defense lawyer chose the eight men and seven women from a pool of 183 prospective jurors after questioning them on their knowledge of the case, their opinions of his guilt and other subjects. 


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