Mary Hartnett

Announcer/News Director

         

The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency has released its second proposal for new political boundaries. That's after Republicans in the state Senate rejected the agency's first plan. Under the second plan, Democrat Cindy Axne and Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks would be pushed into the same congressional district. The proposal also would keep the Democratic counties of Johnson and Linn in separate districts, unlike a previous plan rejected by Republicans this month.

The proposal would move Miller-Meeks into the 3rd District, now represented by Axne. That would leave the southeast Iowa district now represented by Miller-Meeks, newly numbered District 1, with no incumbent living there.  Under the new plan, each of Iowa's four congressional districts would have favored Republican Donald Trump in the 2020 election over Democrat Joe Biden. That's a switch from the first set of maps that created two districts with strong Republican majorities, one that favored Democrats and one that was nearly equal.Trump won Iowa with 53.1% of the vote to 44.9% for Biden.The latest map would include 20 counties in District 1, 22 in District 2, 21 in District 3, and 36 counties in the sprawling 4th Congressional District. Each would be close to the ideal population for congressional districts of 797,592.

A federal judge Friday extended an order that will prevent state officials from enforcing a law that prohibits school districts from implementing mask requirements until a federal lawsuit challenging the law can be heard. Several parents and advocacy groups had sued to overturn the law, saying students who are at risk because of health conditions were not being protected against COVID-19. 

Iowa Democratic leaders want Republican leaders to promise they won’t draw their own political boundaries. State Senate Republicans rejected the first set of redistricting maps that were drawn by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency. The LSA will have a second set of maps done by October 21st.  That would likely give lawmakers enough time to get to a third set of maps—which they can amend- by the December first deadline.

Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls says Democrats are very concerned the Republican majority will draw districts for political advantage.

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A judge has denied a 17-year-old’s request to be tried as a juvenile in a fatal downtown Sioux City shooting in the spring. The trial is set for November 2nd.

Seventeen-year-old Dwight Evans will be tried as an adult on charges of first-degree murder, going armed with intent and two drug counts, the Sioux City Journal reported.

This week on The Exchange we present with the nine canidates for the Sioux City Community School Board.  The election is November 2nd.

The Sioux City Community School District announced today that masks will be required on school buses as of tomorrow. Here is the letter sent out to parents. 

The number of Iowans hospitalized for COVID-19 in Iowa remains above 500, and one expert says it’s straining the state’s hospital system.

Theresa Brennan of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics says the hospital’s ICU is currently dealing with an influx of COVID patients. That’s on top of dealing with a higher than average number of non-COVID patients. Brennan says UIHC is receiving requests for transfers from hospitals across the state -- and country. She says hospitals are facing staff shortages as some are missing work after testing positive for COVID and others are leaving the field from mental burnout.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported Wednesday 11,588 new positive cases in the past seven days.

The number of new COVID-19 infections remains on the rise in Iowa as state health officials are reporting more than 11 thousand new cases have been confirmed in the past week. Nearly 30 percent of the new cases are reported to be in children 17 and under.The state is reporting 578 Iowans are currently hospitalized with the virus. That’s the same number as last week. And 78 percent of those hospitalized are not fully vaccinated. About 87% of ICU patients are not fully vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 62 percent of Iowans 12 and older are fully vaccinated. And all 99 of Iowa’s counties have high levels of community spread.

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Covid 19 cases and vaccinations are slowly rising in Woodbury County. As of facebook posting on Wednesday, Siouxland District Health said for the week beginning August 30th, there were 287 new cases of COVID-19 in Woodbury County, and a positivity rate of 13.2 percent. There were 17 people hospitalized in Siouxland due to covid 19 and the vaccination rate is at 43.4 percent. 

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The US Department of the Treasury will meet with Woodbury County residents online on Monday, Sept. 13, to discuss how federal funding guidelines could impact the proposed use of federal coronavirus funds. Some Woodbury County residents say they want to highlight possible issues with how the Board of Supervisors allocates funding to leadership in the Office of Recovery Programs.That’s after receiving over 250 letters from local residents about funding related to the American Recovery Program.  Several of them registered their concerns with how the money is being used to build the new law enforcement center. Many have also spoken out at both Sioux City Council and Woodbury County Supervisor meetings. Reaffirmed spending guidelines are expected to come out of the US Treasury as early as next week. Residents say they are concerned that these funds should be spent on projects and programs more closely connected to the Covid pandemic. There are also concerns that county residents will have to pay back the federal funds if the funds are misused. 

This week on The Exchange, we hear the details of a new lawsuit filed against the state of Iowa over it’s ban on mask mandates in public schools.  

Also, how to wean yourself off your electronic devices, because you may not realize you are addicted.

And we talk with some of the artists from last weekend’s ArtSplash event, and also with the one of co-founders of the Sioux City International Film Festival that is coming up in October.

We also talk with the artist who painted a new mural on West 7th Street in Sioux City.

Sioux City has been awarded for its response to housing needs during the coronavirus. The City of Sioux City Neighborhood Services Division has been selected as the 2021 COVID-19 Housing Response award winner by the Iowa Finance Authority.  Staff were presented with the award today at the Housing Iowa Conference in Cedar Rapids.  

The  City was awarded for the new Neighborhood Services Division Outreach Office, as well as the emergency shelter program which provided temporary housing in hotels to those experiencing homelessness. The award recognizes "an initiative that was implemented in immediate response to needs created due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 Developers will be able to build 36,450 new housing units to help address Iowa's growing shortage. That's because Iowa is allocating $100 million of its federal coronavirus relief funding to build new homes in the state.  Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that today at the housing conference. The money comes from The American Rescue Plan Act funding. That is being added to more than 230 million dollars the Iowa Legislature allocated over five years to Iowa's tax credit programs.The 100 million dollars will be split among several existing programs, plus a new pilot program to improve housing access for minority groups. 

 

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As the rate of new COVID-19 infections remains high in Iowa, the state's top health official says they are working on more rapid testing options. 

As the spread of the virus remains high across the state, demand for COVID-19 testing has skyrocketed.

Interim state Department of Public Health Director Kelly Garcia says testing is widely available across the state. But the department is seeing some issues for those who need rapid testing.

 

Former President Donald Trump will hold a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Oct. 9, a source familiar with his plans confirmed to the Des Moines Register. In an August radio interview, Trump said that he planned to return to Iowa for a rally, but he did not announce any further details at the time.

The former president's return to the first-in-the-nation caucus state is likely to stoke speculation about whether he'll again seek the White House in 2024. Trump has left the door open to another campaign.

His potential Republican rivals aren't waiting for Trump to announce his intentions. Many possible presidential contenders have already begun visiting Iowa to hold fundraisers for local candidates and attend party dinners.

Des Moines Register/Mediacom, Iowa Poll in June showed Iowans were evenly split on Trump, with 49% saying they had a favorable view of him and 49% saying they had an unfavorable view.

A pilot and his passenger emerged unharmed after their small plane crashed Monday near Kingsley. The Plymouth County Sheriff' says the crash happened at about 3:12 p.m., approximately five miles east of Kingsley and near Plymouth County Road C-66 and Tamarack Avenue. The plane was upside down inside a cornfield. The pilot and passenger were the only two people on board. Their names have not been released.

The crash site has been secured pending an FAA investigation. South Dakota's governor says the national guard troops deployed to the border with Mexico will be on the way home later this month. Kristi Noem thanked the guard member in a Facebook post.  The guard troops encountered more than 6,00 individuals crossing the border.

The ACLU of Iowa and disability rights groups are suing state officials in federal court to overturn a statewide ban on school mask mandates.

ACLU attorney Susan Mizner  says many disabled students have chronic conditions that make the coronavirus a severe health threat. But she says they still have the right to learn in-person, and to ask classmates to wear masks as the CDC recommends.

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The surge in coronavirus cases in Iowa and an increasing number of critically ill patients  has raised concerns about having enough beds, and health care providers. While Iowa’s hospitals are not as full as they were this past fall, the latest spike has officials worried. On Wednesday, UIHC reported 41 COVID-19 admissions, including 36 adult patients and five pediatric patients.

State officials say they’ll start updating Iowa’s coronavirus data website three times a week, instead of once a week.

The Iowa Department of Public Health changed from daily to weekly reporting in early July, and officials say the move followed other states in the region and the CDC’s data reporting at the time. 

Director Kelly Garcia says the situation has “evolved,” and she’s hearing that Iowans want to know more. 

The Iowa Department of Public is updating the coronavirus.iowa.gov website so Iowans can keep up to date on vaccination rates, case positivity rates and hospitalizations.

This week on The Exchange, we focus on issues that affect Native Americans in Siouxland.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts today said the state is working to manage hospital staffing issues, including again setting up a transfer center so that patients could be moved based on hospital availability, according to WOW TV. 

Last week, the governor declared a staffing emergency for Nebraska hospitals.  Nebraska officials said the state was partnering with Nomi Health to help patients in need of a transfer to a hospital in the state. That service is expected to be operational on Saturday. 

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The Iowa Department of Public Health today announced new COVID-19 Data for the past week. IDPH reported 8,907 additional positive COVID-19 tests, for a total of 441,889 positive tests since the start of the pandemic. 

The health department reported 39 additional COVID-19 deaths, totaling 6,307 since the pandemic began. 

The state’s 14-day positivity rate is up from 8.2% to 8.6% in the last 7 days, and the 7-day rate is up from 8.3% to 8.6%.

The early 19th century camp site of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was artfully recreated last weekend as part of the annual Sergeant Floyd Memorial Encampment outside of the Sergeant Floyd River Museum. Floyd died in what is now Sioux City; the only man to die on the trip.

Siouxland Public Media’s Mary Hartnett visited the site of the recreated camp and spoke with the Corps of Discovery’s blacksmith.

This week on The Exchange, we hear both sides of a controversy over the use of American Recovercy Plan Act funds for the new Woodbury Count Law Enforcement Center in Sioux City. Some residents and labor leaders saycoronavirus money should go to help those hurt by the pandemic; not to cover the escalating costs of the LEC.  The Board of Supervisors says the higher costs have been caused by supply chain issues that were caused by the pandemic.  We hear comments from this week's supervisors' meeting. 

School is back in session in Siouxland and across the country. Parents and kids are beginning their second year while dealing with the coronavirus.  The Sioux City Public School Foundation has endeavored to help students with keeping safe, learning in difficult times, providing band instruments and graduation gear. The foundation has three main pillers to its mission.  I talked with the foundation’s Mickey Nelson and Michael Rohlena about those pillars and how they are put into practice in the Sioux City public schools.

More than a dozen Woodbury County residents spoke out against using federal coronavirus money to build the new Law Enforcement Center at yesterday’s supervisor’s meeting. Siouxland Public Media’s Mary Hartnett has more.  

Members of the group United Today, Stronger Tomorrow argued against using more than 15 million dollars in American Recovery Plan Act money, meant to offset costs from the coronavirus pandemic, for the new Law Enforcement Center.  The UTST and labor leaders held a press conference and described their concerns last week. 

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