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NEWS 11.8.21

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COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the way up in Iowa.

According to the state health department, the 14-day test positivity rate increased about a third of a percent since Friday for a current rate of 8.7%. Woodbury County’s seven-day rate is 11%. There were more than 7,900 new cases in the last week with 235 in Woodbury County.

Hospitalizations, which had been falling for several weeks, are on the rise again. There are 481 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Iowa, up from 464 on Friday.

More than 71% of people in the hospital have not been vaccinated, the level is 83.5% for those in intensive care.

When it comes to vaccinations, more than 68% of Iowans 18 and older are fully vaccinated. In Woodbury County 63.6% have been vaccinated.

Nebraska Pete Ricketts says with COVID-19 hospitalizations back up, Nebraska would again resume updating its hospital capacity data dashboard daily.

The current number of people hospitalized with the virus is around 400, about 10% of the available beds statewide, according to Ricketts.

The governor said he didn’t expect there would be a directed health measure about elective surgeries, which have been implemented in the past to help alleviate the stress on hospitals.

A woman convicted of murder for her role in the death and dismemberment of a Nebraska hardware store clerk has been sentenced to life in prison, avoiding the prospect of being the first woman in state history to be sentenced to death. A three-judge panel deadlocked on the appropriate sentence for Bailey Boswell, with two arguing that the 27-year-old deserved to die for her crimes and the third maintaining that prosecutors failed to prove that the case merited the ultimate punishment. Boswell will now spend the rest of her life at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women.

News release from the State of Iowa:

Gov. Reynolds orders flags at half-staff in honor and remembrance of Fairfield teacher Nohema Graber

DES MOINES - Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered all flags in Iowa to be lowered to half-staff Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from sunrise to sunset in honor and remembrance of Nohema Graber, a Fairfield high school teacher who was killed last week.

A public memorial service is planned for Graber tomorrow night at the Fairfield High School. Private services are planned for a later date.

“My heart goes out to the family, friends, colleagues, and students that are dealing with this tragic murder of Nohema Graber,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Ms. Graber touched countless children’s lives through her work as an educator across our state by sharing her passion of foreign language.”

Flags will be at half-staff on the State Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex. Flags will also be half-staff on all public buildings, grounds and facilities throughout the state.  

Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties, and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flags at half-staff for the same length of time.   

Tonight, the Sioux City School Board will decide whether to move forward with plans to build a permanent virtual learning academy.

The Vibe Academy would be located on the 2nd floor of the Education Service Center.

The district is currently leasing space in the Ho-Chunk Center. The cost of the project is $1.5 million. The public will also get a chance to weigh in on the project.

The board is also going to discuss signing a contract with an outside company to provide substitute teachers.

Sixteen businesses associated with gubernatorial candidate Republican Jim Pillen received about $7.8 million in federal loans during the pandemic and later returned over $5 million of that. The loans were part of the Paycheck Protection Program that was created to help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. The Omaha World-Herald reports that 114,684 loans worth a total of $5.39 billion were granted to Nebraska businesses. Sarah Pillen, who is co-CEO of the Columbus-based company, said the loans helped the business keep employees at a time when the spread of the virus disrupted the meatpacking industry.

Scott Frost will remain coach at Nebraska after this season but with a restructured contract. That word from athletic director Trev Alberts. The Cornhuskers are 15-27 in four years under Frost and his future has been the subject of speculation. The Huskers are 3-7 this season and last in the Big Ten West. Alberts says Frost has laid out a clear plan and vision for the future of the program and agreed to the restructured contract. Frost is a native Nebraskan and he was quarterback for the Huskers’ 1997 national championship team. Frost currently makes $5 million a year.

Another major railroad has gone to court to determine whether it has the authority to require all its employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. BNSF railroad filed a lawsuit Sunday against its major unions over its mandate. It joins Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific, which both filed similar lawsuits against the unions last month. The unions, which have filed some of their own lawsuits in response, argue that the railroads should have negotiated with them before imposing their mandates. The railroads that have imposed vaccine mandates say they are complying with President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring all federal contractors to have their employees vaccinated.

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