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NEWS 10.22.21: Economic Upturn, Election Update, Booster Information, Water Testing, and More

SPM NEWS 10.22.21 - 432PM - City/County Election Update from Woodbury County Auditor/Election Commissioner Pat Gill

Nebraska’s latest unemployment rate of 2% was the nation’s lowest and beat a record for the state

September's level is the lowest since Nebraska began keeping records of unemployment data in 1976. It's also tied with the nationwide record low set by Hawaii in January 2020 and Connecticut in August 2020.

Utah was number two at 2.4% and the national rate for September almost 5%.

Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped slightly to 4%.

The total number of unemployed Iowans dropped by nearly 2,000 to 66,100 people. Iowa’s rate left it tied with two other states for the nation’s 17th lowest unemployment rate.

A new monthly survey of bankers in rural parts of 10 states including the tri-state area of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota suggests strong economic growth continues in the region.

The overall economic index improved in October to 66.1 from September’s already-strong 62.5 reading. Any score above 50 suggests growth.  

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said the area is benefitting from solid grain prices, continued low interest rates and growing agricultural exports. Goss said demand for workers is high but businesses are having trouble finding people to hire.

The Woodbury County Auditor and Election Commissioner once again expressed concern about the upcoming city/county election.

Pat Gill held a news conference this morning at the Courthouse and provided an update on absentee ballot requests. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot was Monday at 5 p.m.

Gill says his office sent out 700 ballots, a major drop from the last city/county election, when about 25% of registered voters cast their ballots.

“Two years ago, we had 12,722, vote with 5,045 by mail.”

Gill says early voting is underway at the Woodbury County Courthouse, and so far, a couple hundred people have stopped by.

He worries about the disabled in the community.

“If you know someone who wants to vote and didn’t get an absentee ballot, give them a call and offer them a ride on election day. We also have curbside voting.”

Gill is also waiting for state approval to allow satellite voting next Saturday to give people who have to work a chance to vote early.

Gill pointed out another change in voting law prevents his office from sending out sample ballots. He says with 89 different ballot styles in Woodbury County people can go to the website for Woodbury County to take a look and even figure out the location of their precinct. There is also an app available for Smart Phones called “Where Do I Vote?”

People can still register to vote and will need to present an ID on election day, November 2nd.

When asked his opinion about the second set of districting maps presented yesterday by the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency, Gill says Woodbury County appears to have the same boundaries as the first plan shot down by GOP members of the statehouse.

“We anxiously waiting for a map to be passed and enacted into law.”

A special session is planned on October 28th for lawmakers to vote on the second plan.

A pair of campaigns to expand Medicaid in South Dakota are nearing enough voter petitions to be placed on the ballot next year. The group Dakotans for Health, gathered an estimated 36,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, a separate campaign that is backed by the state’s major health care systems says it has surpassed the roughly 34,000 signature minimum.

The groups are proposing an amendment to the state constitution that would make Medicaid health insurance available to people who live below 133% of the federal poverty level. The campaigns have prompted a political tussle between the Legislature and ballot measure groups.

Health officials in South Dakota say they’re prepared to handle the vaccination of the state’s young people as federal regulators weigh the safety and effectiveness of giving COVID-19 shots to children ages 5 to 11.

The White House detailed plans Wednesday for the Pfizer shot to be given to elementary school youngsters with federal authorization expected in a matter of weeks.

Credit Sioux City Community Schools
SCCSD Weekly COVID-19 Trend Report

Officials overseeing Woodbury County’s Health Department released information surrounding COVID-19 booster shots. The CDC recommends a booster now for many people who received Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.  Pfizer boosters have been approved for a few weeks.

The guideline for the Moderna booster is the same as for Pfizer. People needs to wait 6 months after completing their two-shot series. Johnson and Johnson the booster needs to come two months later. Also, people can mix and match brands of vaccines.

Supplies are good and available throughout Woodbury County at medical providers, pharmacies, and Siouxland District Health.

Health officials do recommend certain individuals should get the booster: people over 65, residents of long-term care facilities, people working in higher risk settings, and anyone over 18 with underlying medical conditions.

Credit Dakota County Health Department

The state’s drinking water tests for toxic, human-made chemicals that persist indefinitely in the environment began this week and will include at least 59 cities in Iowa, according to a list of test sites obtained by Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Testing by the DNR is expected to be completed by the end of the year and will include Sioux City, Sergeant Bluff, Spencer, Okoboji, Spirit Lake, Ida Grove, Rock Valley, and Sioux Rapids. Plus, Rural Water System #1 based in Hospers.

Concerns about the presence of “forever chemicals” or PFAS in drinking water have grown in recent years as DuPont and 3M have agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle lawsuits for environmental contaminations. The chemicals primarily have been identified near airports in Iowa, where they are used to de-ice planes and put out fire. They also show up in nonstick cooking pans and stain-resistant clothing and furniture. Research links them to cancer, birth defects and other issues and most people do have detectable amounts in their bodies.

Two Iowa State University crew club members were participating in their first practice on the water when they drowned in March after their boat capsized in strong winds, according to newly released investigative findings. The pandemic had kept the club off the water for 18 months and investigators concluded in information released Wednesday that team members’ excitement for a chance to return likely clouded their judgment about safety. The Ames Tribune reports that 20-year-old Yaakov Ben-David and 19-year-old Derek Nanni died in the capsizing on Little Wall Lake, about 20 miles north of the university’s campus in Ames. Three other members made it to shore, two of them with help from bystanders.

News release from Siouxland District Health:

In an effort to strengthen protection for people most likely to have severe COVID illness, CDC is now recommending a booster for many people vaccinated with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.  This latest recommendation makes boosters possible for all three vaccines authorized in the USA.  Boosters for Pfizer vaccine have been approved for a few weeks now.

Details for Moderna boosters (which is the same as recommendations for Pfizer booster):

·      It must be at least 6 months since a person completed their initial series of Moderna vaccine.

·      The following people should get a booster:

o   People 65 year of age and older

o   Residents in long-term care settings

o   People aged 18 years and older with underlying medical conditions (examples of these medical conditions include cancer, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung disease, dementia, Down syndrome, heart conditions, overweight and obesity)

o   People aged 18 years and older who are at increased risk due to where they work or live (such as institutional settings)

·      Individuals can self-report that they are eligible under these recommendations.

Details for Johnson & Johnson boosters:

·      The booster dose needs to be at least 2 months after your first shot.

·      There are no eligibility criteria for the booster dose

Additionally, people can receive a booster dose of a vaccine that is different than the brand of the primary series.  This so called “mixing and matching” may apply to all three vaccine brands.

These boosters can begin immediately.  Vaccine supply is good and is available throughout Woodbury County at medical providers offices, pharmacies, and Siouxland District Health Department.

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