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NEWS 9.30.21: IA C19 Trends, NE Redistricting Passes, "Storm Lake" Opens Film Festival, and More


Data released on Wednesday suggested that Iowa might be turning a corner in the fight against COVID-19. The New York Times reported the state has seen a 25% decrease in cases over the last two weeks, with a new daily average of 1,114 cases per day. 

Infections reached the highest level of the year last week, with an average of 1,811 new cases per day.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports Iowa had one of the highest per-capita rates in the U.S., with an average of 55 new daily cases per 100,000 residents.

Hospitalizations, however, are up 11% over the last two weeks, according to the Times.  State data shows there are 624 Iowans currently in the hospital, including 157 patients in the ICU.

There are 13 children currently hospitalized with COVID-19. That is down from a week earlier statewide.

However, patients being treated for COVID-19 only at Sioux City two medical facilities doubled in one week from 15 to 30 patients.

There are also fewer long-term care outbreaks than last week. Iowa Department of Public Health data shows that there were 25 nursing home outbreaks as of Tuesday, compared to 29 last Friday.

A September Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll found that a quarter of Iowa adults do not intend to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Rural Iowans were the least likely to get the shots, with just 51% responding that they have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The rate in Woodbury County is 45%.

Nebraskans who need certain types of surgeries will need to wait longer under a public health measure that will continue through October.

Gov. Pete Ricketts announced that he's extending the measure through Oct. 31 to help short-staffed hospitals cope with existing patients. The directed health measure had been scheduled to expire on Thursday.

The order applies to inpatient elective procedures that can wait four weeks or longer without substantially changing a patient’s outcome.

Lawmakers in Nebraska have approved new redistricting maps.

The Unicameral gave final approval this morning to the six maps, redrawn based on the 2020 Census data. Governor Pete Ricketts then gave his approval by signing the legislative bills into law.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is cutting ties with political adviser Corey Lewandowski after the longtime confidant to former President Donald Trump was publicly accused of sexually assaulting a GOP donor.

Lewandowski had been key to the Republican governor’s political rise over the last year, joining her at political events across the country. But his time as her advisor was also marked with turmoil in the governor’s office with frequent staff departures.

Lewandowski was removed on Wednesday from his role running a Trump-supporting super PAC.

The Sioux City International Film Festival kicks off tonight with a showing of the documentary Storm Lake.

The movie features the Pulitzer Prize winning editor of The Storm Lake Times, Art Cullen, and shows how he and his family work to keep the publication in business as they cover important stories, including water quality, the Iowa Caucuses, and the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Cullen has been on the road promoting the movie and says he likes to use the moment to focus on the issues he finds important.

“Civic engagement, the health of democracy, the health of agriculture and the environment.”

“I would like to take the attention and channel it into those questions.”

Cullen helped launch the Western Iowa Journalism Foundation to help support independent family-owned newspapers facing tough times.

Storm Lake premiers tonight at Sioux City’s Promenade Theatre at 7:30 p.m. The showing is free through support from the Kind World Foundation. The documentary will also appear on PBS November 15th.

The Sioux City International Film Festival will continue through Sunday. Listen for more details tomorrow at 9 a.m. during The Exchange with host Mary Hartnett. Or, check out our website for an extended interview with Art Cullen.

The Powerball jackpot has climbed to an estimated $620 million after nearly four months without a big winner. That makes it the 10th largest U.S. lottery prize ahead of Saturday night’s drawing. There have been 39 drawings in a row without a Powerball grand prize winner, dating back to the last time someone hit the jackpot on June 5. It’s no mystery why it’s been so long since a player has hit the jackpot — the odds are a steep one in 292.2 million. Although the jackpot is billed as $620 million, that is the estimate for the annuity option paid over 30 years. Winners nearly always opt for the cash option, which for Saturday’s drawing will be an estimated $446 million.

Frank Thomas has found his Field of Dreams. The Hall of Famer has headed a venture that bought controlling interest in Go the Distance Baseball’s stake of All-Star Ballpark Heaven and the Field of Dreams Movie Site. The company says This is Heaven LLC, a company of the 53-year-old Thomas and Chicago real estate developer Rick Heidner, bought the interests in Go the Distance Baseball owned by the Denise M. Stillman Trust. Thomas will be chief executive officer and former Chicago White Sox general manager Dan Evans will be chief operating officer.

News release from the state of Iowa:

Gov. Reynolds issues a statement in response to the new ownership of the Field of Dreams 

DES MOINES -- Gov. Reynolds released the following statement today in response to the new ownership of the Field of Dreams. 

“I’m excited about the new ownership of the Field of Dreams property in Dyersville, and want to thank Frank Thomas for his investment in Iowa. 

“This iconic movie site has drawn millions of people to our state over the years, most recently during the first-ever MLB game held in Iowa between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox.  

“The Field of Dreams is symbolic of what makes Iowa such a special place, and I'm proud to showcase it for the nation.  

“Now, with Frank’s vision, new leadership and strong state and local partnerships, I’m confident that the Field of Dreams will become a world class attraction, and further expand economic development opportunities for Dyersville, its surrounding communities and our state as a whole. 

“The State of Iowa is committed to the continued success of this site, and I look forward to working with Frank and his team soon.”   

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