Mary Hartnett

Announcer/News Director

The Iowa Department of Public Health is reporting 13 additional COVID-19 deaths and an additional 468 confirmed cases. In Woodbury County today, there have been 11 new covid-19 cases added to the total case count. There was one additional death reported yesterday, and there have been 220 coronavirus-related deaths in Woodbury County. 

A group of South Sioux City High School students has invited the public to join them at a protest today, but school administrators have already said that that type of demonstration is not allowed. Last week, 100 students demonstrated to show concerns about school officials are handling racial equality, religious freedom, and treatment of LGBTQ students.

According to a Facebook post, a second protest has been scheduled for 3:30 p.m. across the street from the school. The post said students are asking for community members to attend.

Wednesday, the district published a message regarding the walkout, including a video link. School-sponsored activities planned by the students and faculty shall be in conformance with board policies, Superintendent Todd Strom Strom said in the video. Strom said, "protests, walkouts, demonstrations, those are forbidden in schools and on school grounds are not allowed."

Strom encouraged students to bring concerns to a classroom teacher, school counselor, or building principal. He also said students could reach out to the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Awareness group (IDEA) or use the district's "Let's Talk" form on the website to voice any concerns. Strom said the video and message were an attempt to restate the rules and expectations for students so they do not receive a violation. He said the school wants to provide a safe, educational environment and last Friday was a distraction.

Governor Kim Reynolds today announced she will allocate 11.5 million dollars of federal COVID-relief funds for mental health services in Iowa schools and to support community college job training programs. Reynolds said expanding support services in PreK-12 school will help address the coronavirus pandemic's impact on student's mental health.

She says increasing tuition assistance for job training will allow more Iowans to quickly fill high-demand jobs in industries such as health care, information technology, and trucking.

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Gov. Kim Reynolds says the temporary pause in the use of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine should be manageable for Iowa.

Reynolds says the one-dose vaccine accounts for a small portion of its weekly allocation due to manufacturing issues. The governor got the J&J vaccine on March 4. 

In the meantime, Reynolds urged Iowans to seek out the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and keep an open mind while the state waits for further federal guidance.

Iowa Democrat Rita Hart announced today she is withdrawing her challenge to U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks' election in Iowa's 2nd Congressional District, according to the Des Moines Register. 

Hart had asked the U.S. House to review the outcome, which was decided by a razor-thin margin of six votes. A district-wide recount showed Miller-Meeks won the race by just six votes out of nearly 400,000 cast, the tightest margin of any U.S. election since 1974. A bipartisan state panel certified the results in January. 

Vaccine navigators are now available for Iowans with barriers to scheduling a vaccine appointment on the phone. People who do not have internet access are 65 and older, or 64 and younger with an underlying health condition can now call 211 or (800) 244-7431. A vaccine navigator will assist them with scheduling a vaccine appointment. Translation services are available.

 

The names of two Iowa State Crew Club members who died after their boat capsized on Little Wall Lake Sunday have been released by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and ISU Police Department.

Twenty-year-old Yaakov Ben-David was a sophomore accounting major from Washington, D.C. Nineteen-year-old Derek Nanni was a freshman chemistry major from Normal, Illinois. The names of the other Crew Club members are not being released to protect their privacy, according to the release. 

Unemployment in metro Sioux City inched down to 4.1% in February. Employers added 100 non-farm jobs, according to state data released by the state Tuesday.

The jobless rate in Sioux City Metropolitan Statistical area, which includes Woodbury and Plymouth counties in Iowa, Dakota and Dixon counties in Nebraska, and Union County in South Dakota -- fell slightly from 4.3% in January, according to Iowa Workforce. Iowa’s unemployment rate held steady at 3.6%.

Iowans who have not yet filed their 2020 individual state income taxes now will have more time. The Iowa Department of Revenue announced yesterday it had extended the filing and payment deadline to June 1 for 2020 individual returns and first-quarter estimated income tax payments for individuals.

The state's extension comes after the U.S. Treasury also lengthened the time for individuals to file their federal taxes — although those are due May 17, sooner than Iowa's new deadline.

 

The next Woodbury County public COVID-19 vaccination clinics will take place Tuesday, April 6th, and Thursday, April 8th at the Siouxland Expo Center in Sioux City. Appointments will be open to all residents age 16 and older who need their first dose of vaccine. Clinics will be using the Pfizer vaccine, which is approved for use in individuals age 16 and older. You can register online at the Siouxland District Health Department website at siouxlanddistricthealth.org  beginning at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow. 

Hamilton County authorities have found the body of a second Iowa State Crew Club member who went missing during an accident at Little Wall Lake yesterday morning.  Hamilton County Sheriff Douglas Timmons confirmed during a news conference Monday morning. According to a university news release, five members of the Iowa State Crew Club were practicing at Little Wall Lake on Sunday morning when their boat capsized. Three of the students were rescued from the water, treated, and released from Mary Greeley Medical Center, officials said.

A new poll shows that fewer than one-third of Iowans now support the Legislature's push for an amendment that says the state constitution does not secure a right to abortion. The Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature is working this year to approve the amendment.

Fewer than one-third of Iowans now support the Legislature's push for an amendment that says the state constitution does not secure a right to abortion, according to a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll.   Support for the proposal has dipped slightly from 33% last spring to 31% this year, the poll found. The opposition has also risen, with 58% of Iowans now saying they're opposed, up from 54% a year ago.

The South Dakota Department of Health today reports that there are now two new COVID-19 variants in the state, as well as an increase in the number of U.K. variants. The state also reported three additional COVID-19 deaths today, as well as 254 new positive infections.  

The new variants include one case of the variant from from South Africa, and five cases of the California variant. They join the 14 UK. variants which have now been found in South Dakota.  More than 228,000 people in South Dakota have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

Since last month, Siouxland District Health Department has been holding mass vaccine clinics at the Tyson Events Center in downtown Sioux City. But the department’s health director said activities there have picked back up. But Parks and Recreation Director Matt Salvatore says that’s not a problem at the Siouxland Expo Center. 

 

During the day we’re not as busy with activities. So it fits into our schedule perfectly. It looks like we’re going to host four during April. 

 

In an after-midnight vote, the Iowa House passed a bill to provide public funding for charter schools run by groups unaffiliated with local school districts. Republicans suspended House rules to allow a vote after midnight, without a public hearing requested by Democrats, and placed a “time certain” limit on debate.

Under the bill the State Board of Education would have authority to approve charter school applications from local school boards and from so-called ‘founding groups’ that could operate a school independent from the local school board.

This week on The Exchange we look back on one year and a few weeks since COVID came to Siuoxland. We talk about lessons learned during the pandemic with Unity Point-St. Luke's Medical Director of Quality and Patient Safety, Dr. Michael Kafka, and the hospital's Chief Nursing Officer, Wendy Lindley.

We also talk with the editor of a new book meant to unite people in the aftermath of the darkest days of the pandemic.  Timothy Shriver is the editor of The Call to Unite: Voices of Hope and Awakening. Shriver also leads the Special Olympics International Board of Directors. 

 

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A new round of rental and utility assistance will provide up to 12 months of aid to those affected by the pandemic in Iowa. Governor Kim Reynolds made the announcement at her weekly news conference today.

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Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds offered a prayer today for the family, friends, and coworkers of two members of staff Tuesday at Anamosa State Penitentiary. At her weekly news conference today, Reynolds also asked people to be patient and respectful of the families as officials continue investigating what happened. Department of Corrections officials will hold a news conference about the incident at 3 p.m. today at the prison.

 

Vaccinations continue in Iowa as the Iowa Department of Public Health reports another nine COVID-19 deaths and an additional 404 confirmed cases today. In Woodbury County, there have been 25 new cases added to the total count in the last 24 hours. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced yesterday that all adult Iowans will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination starting April 5. During her weekly news conference, the governor said so long as vaccine supplies from the federal government keep up with demand, she expects all Iowans to be eligible for the vaccine. 

This week on The Exchange, we have a preview of what to expect when Downtown Live! returns this June with organizer Brent Stockton. Also, we talk with Ryan Haskins of the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra about its return to stage and its streaming service as well. 

Local historian Russ Gifford presents "Eleanor Roosevelt: A Woman Who Made A Difference," Monday, March 22, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. live on Zoom, as part of Western Iowa Tech Community College's Lifelong Learning Program.  Here is a preview.

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The state health department reports nearly 5 thousand additional deaths in 2020 compared to previous years' numbers. This number could be another indicator of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on Iowa.

According to preliminary data, Iowa had more than 35 thousand deaths reported in 2020. That's higher than the past four years when that number hovered around 30 thousand deaths per year.

 

The Siouxland Community Health Center will be invited to join the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program in the next six weeks.  This program directly allocates vaccines to supported health centers to ensure underserved communities and those disproportionately affected by COVID-19 are equitably vaccinated.

304 031121 On Thursday, the Iowa Department of Public Health reported 19 additional COVID-19 deaths and a further 412 confirmed cases.The department says in Woodbury County, there have been 31 new cases added to the total case count in the last 24 hours. Woodbury County has a 14-day COVID-19 positivity rate of 6.4 percent, which was unchanged from yesterday. Another Crawford County resident has succumbed to the novel coronavirus, according to state statistics.As of 1 p.m.

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Jurors have acquitted an Iowa journalist who was pepper-sprayed and arrested by police while covering a protest.  Critics have derided the case as an attack on press freedom and an abuse of prosecutorial discretion. 

A jury found Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri not guilty on misdemeanor charges of failure to disperse and interference with official acts. It also acquitted her former boyfriend, Spenser Robnett, of the same charges, which carried the threat of fines and even jail time. 

The verdict came after a three-day trial in Des Moines.

This week on The Exchange, we hear from Siouxlanders who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 as they gather in downtown Sioux City for a memorial Monday evening.  Also, we hear from Ike Rayford, president of the Sioux City Chapter of the NAACP about some of the friends he has lost to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Also we remember Siouxland's Rick Mullin, who co-founded the Sioux City International Film Festival.  He died unexpectedly at the end of February. 

The Iowa Department of Public Health today is launching  Vaccinate.Iowa.gov, a new website that provides information about vaccine priority populations and eligibility, resources available for Iowans age 65 and older, and answers to fre

This week on The Exchange, we speak with the author of a new book who tells of his first-hand experience in the oil fields in the boom town of Williston, North Dakota.  Michael Patrick  says his book looks at people who are often surviving financially from week to week. 

We also talk about one of the country’s first carbon capture and storage projects that is associated with an ethanol plant in Marcus, Iowa.  Bruce Rastetter is the CEO of Summit. He says the partnership is a giant step forward for the biofuels industry.

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