PM NEWS 6.29.21: IA Handgun Deregulation, Derailment, Wind Energy Hearings, & Vaccination Rates
Gun deaths have been surging in Iowa as a law is set to go into effect that will allow people to more easily buy handguns and carry them in public without training or a permit. The Iowa Department of Public Health said Tuesday that a record 353 people died from gunshot wounds in Iowa in 2020, a 23% increase from the previous high in 2019. This year saw 85 firearm homicides, an 80% increase. Suicides still made up three of every four gun deaths in the state. A leading gun violence researcher said he expects Iowa’s sweeping handgun deregulation that begins Thursday to make things even worse.
An investigation is underway after a train derailment near Dakota City this morning. BNSF railroad says around six this morning a train hit a semi. Two locomotives and six cars went off the tracks. No one was hurt either in the vehicle or train. The company says the incident happened at a crossing with warning signs.
Statement from BNSF surrounding train derailment near Dakota City, Nebraska:
“BNSF can confirm that at approximately 6 a.m. central today a train carrying mixed freight reported striking a flatbed semi-truck near Dakota City, Nebraska. Initial reports indicate that the vehicle occupant was unharmed and there were no injuries to our crew. Two locomotives and six cars derailed as a result of the accident. All six cars and locomotives remain upright. The incident did occur at a road crossing equipped with warning signs. BNSF responders are on scene. Cleanup of the site is ongoing and our primary focus is to address any safety issues. An investigation is under way.”
Another public hearing is scheduled for this afternoon to gather public opinion on a proposed commercial wind energy ordinance for Woodbury County.
The meeting starts at 4:45 at the board of supervisors meeting room at the Woodbury County Courthouse. Another one takes place next Tuesday at the same time.
The director of rural economic development David Gleiser told the Sioux City Journal his staff worked to draft the proposed ordinance after researching other counties across the state. A proposal outlines protected area where turbines can’t be built, including 600 feet of public conservation areas, cemeteries, homes, and city limits.
Supervisor Mark Monson says the Loess Hills should be added to the list.
Gleiser says due to wind patterns the windmills would most likely end up in the northern portion of Woodbury County.
A representative with the Northwest Iowa Group of the Sierra Club says the organization, even on a state level supports wind energy. However, turbines need to be sited properly to ensure as few side effects as possible.
A statement by local Sierra Club Chair, Carrie Radloff goes on to say “the prospect of wind generation closer to Sioux City is encouraging considering the coal plants located south of Sioux City. Radloff is also encouraged about concerns raised about places turbines within the Loess Hills.
Full statement from Carrie Radloff the chair of the Northwest Iowa Group Sierra Club. She also serves on several environmental boards:
Sioux City Environmental Advisory Board (former chair)
Loess Hills Wild Ones (chapter membership chair)
Wild Ones (national board member)
"Sierra Club, including the Iowa Chapter and the Northwest Iowa Group, support wind energy. By any measure, it's both cheaper and cleaner than electricity generated by most other sources (possibly all, at this moment). However, turbines must be sited properly to ensure as few "side effects" as possible. Sierra Club crafted this advisory a few years ago: https://www.sierraclub.org/policy/energy/wind-siting-advisory .
The prospect of wind generation closer to Sioux City is encouraging considering the (unnecessary) coal plants just south of us. I am glad that Mark Monson mentioned his concerns about siting turbines within the Loess Hills, and that David Gleiser quickly consulted Graham McGaffin so the ordinance may effectively protect this unique landform and its wildlife."
Only 50 of Iowa’s 409 nursing homes are reporting that three-quarters or more of their workers have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
That’s according to newly disclosed records reported by the Iowa Capitol Dispatch. A full report can be found here.
That means 88% of Iowa’s nursing homes have yet to meet the industry’s stated standard of having at least three-fourths of their workforce vaccinated against the virus.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began publishing COVID-19 vaccination data from individual nursing homes on its COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website.
The facilities meeting this threshold in northwest Iowa are Good Samaritan in Estherville, Willow Dale Wellness Village in Battle Creek, and Longhouse-Northshire in Spencer,
There is only one nursing home on the list in Sioux City Accura Healthcare with a vaccination rate of 100%.
Since May 21, nursing homes throughout the country have been required by CMS to submit vaccination data for both staff and residents. When data from only those homes that have complied is considered and compared to data from all 50 states, Iowa has the 21st highest rate of staff vaccinations, at 59%.
* Special thanks to the Iowa Capitol Distatch for the previous news story. For more information or to subscribe check out https://iowacapitaldispatch.com.
The latest numbers from the Iowa Department of Public Health showed statewide more than 45% of Iowans have been fully vaccinated against the virus.
There were no new deaths recorded in the past 24-hours due to complications of COVID-19 with more than 90 new cases.
There are still disparities in access to full-time, in-person learning for students of color in Iowa. That’s according to research recently released from the U-S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It compared access to three different learning models in its study: full-time/in-person, hybrid and all virtual. It found full-time/in-person learning steadily increased starting in January of 2021 for all racial ethnic groups.
But it also found students of color in the state have on average around seven percent less access to full-time, in-person learning than non-Hispanic white students. The CDC flags this as something that can possibly lead to future inequities in the educational system. Some of the evidence suggested families of color were more concerned about their children contracting COVID-19 in schools. It recommends increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates and other efforts to reduce community transmission in schools to address the disparities.
News release from the city of Sioux City surrounding transportation for Saturday in the Park:
Sioux City Transit will provide bus service to and from the Saturday in the Park music festival on Friday, July 2, and Saturday, July 3. Friday service will begin at 4:00 p.m. until approximately 11:00 p.m. Saturday service will begin at 1:30 p.m. until approximately 11:00 p.m. Face masks are required on all Sioux City Transit buses.
Public Transit Bus Route: Pick up and drop off in front of the Tyson Events Center Main Entrance and south entrance of Grandview Park, at 24th Street.
Adult - $1.80 one-way trip or $3.60 round trip
Student - $1.55 one-way trip or $3.10 round trip.
Senior Citizen & Disabled - $0.90 one-way trip or $1.80 round trip.
Children Under Five - Free