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NEWS 12.7.21

COVID-19 image
sheila brummer
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The average number of new COVID-19 infections in Iowa rose by 55% this past week, and the state now has one of the nation’s worst positivity rates for the virus.

According to the Washington Post’s COVID-19 tracker, 16% of those Iowans who were tested for COVID-19 in the past seven days tested positive for the virus. Nationally, the average percentage of people testing positive is half that of Iowa, at 8%, even though the per capita number of tests administered nationally and in Iowa are comparable.

Link to longer story from the Iowa Capital Dispatch:
https://iowacapitaldispatch.com/2021/12/07/iowas-covid-19-positivity-rate-is-now-among-the-nations-highest/

The state of South Dakota reported a big jump in new COVID-19 cases, but recoveries are also rising, according to information from the state's Department of Health and reported by the Argus Leader.

The state added more than 1,000 new cases of the virus, bringing the active cases in South Dakota to more than 7,600.

As of Tuesday, 250 were in the hospital with the virus. About 65% of South Dakota's eligible population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

There were four new deaths for a total of almost 2,400 since the start of the Pandemic.

Masks will continue to be required in Iowa courtrooms and some proceedings may continue to be held via teleconference under orders issued Monday by the Iowa Supreme Court chief justice.

The requirement includes all counties and does not depend on a local area’s positivity rate or transmission status.

All 99 Iowa counties are considered by the CDC to be experiencing a high rate of COVID-19 spread.

The mask requirement stands out since Iowa has no other personal protective requirements regarding the virus. Gov. Kim Reynolds has resisted mask mandates and is fighting in court to prevent school districts from imposing them.

News release from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds:

 Gov. Reynolds issues a statement in response to the court’s injunction against vaccine mandate for federal contractors

DES MOINES -- Today Gov. Reynolds released the following statement on the district court’s injunction against the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate rule for federal contractors:

“I applaud the Court’s decision on the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors, which is an attack on individual liberties.

“Requiring these vaccine mandates will only exacerbate our existing workforce shortage in Iowa and across the nation, furthering our supply chain issues.

“I believe the vaccine is the best defense against COVID-19, but I also firmly believe in Iowans’ right to make health care decisions based on what’s best for themselves and their families, and I remain committed to protecting those freedoms. President Biden should do the same.”

Iowa spent more than $10 million acquiring 500 ventilators before the worst months of the coronavirus pandemic when hospitalizations and deaths peaked late last year, but just nine of the breathing apparatuses were distributed to hospitals at that time.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports the state ordered the ventilators in March 2020, the same month the first COVID-19 cases were identified in Iowa. By the time the devices arrived in late summer, hospitals had already scrambled to acquire ventilators during the first surge in hospitalizations that spring.

UnityPoint-Health in Sioux City, for example, obtained additional ventilators from other hospitals and the Iowa National Guard according to a local spokesperson.

FEMA reimbursed Iowa for the full cost of the ventilators.

Link to longer story from the Iowa Capital Dispatch:
https://iowacapitaldispatch.com/2021/12/06/iowa-ventilator-stockpile-sat-idle-during-worst-of-pandemic/

The United States' soaring inflation has Gov. Kristi Noem calling for across-the-board raises for South Dakota educators and state employees, who she says are struggling to make ends meet in President Joe Biden's economy.

The first-term Republican governor in her 2021 Budget Address to the South Dakota Legislature on Tuesday outlined her vision for spending hundreds of millions in state and federal dollars, and used the opportunity to paint a bleak financial picture facing Americans because of what she characterized as poor decision making in Washington D.C.

South Dakota will receive more than $60 million in water project funding in the massive federal infrastructure bill.

State auditor Rob Sand announced today he is running for re-election. The decision ends speculation that the Democrat might run for governor in 2022.

Elected in 2018, Rob Sand is one of just three Democrats who hold statewide office in Iowa.

Sand has released several critical audits of Republican Governor Kim Reynolds’ office.

Including one in November that says she improperly used federal COVID relief money to pay staff salaries for a few months.

Sand had publicly been weighing a run for governor but said in a video posted to twitter he wants to continue his work as auditor.

Governor Reynolds has not officially announced she’s running for re-election next year but her candidacy is widely expected.

Two major Democratic candidates have declared a run for Governor next year: Waterloo state Representative Ras Smith and Des Moines businesswoman Deidre DeJear.

Missouri River Historical Development or MRHD last night presented $225,000 to 20 nonprofit organizations.

The Mary. J. Treglia Community House received $40,000 to help resettle 50 refugees from Afghanistan. A dozen already arrived with 11 now in Sergeant Bluff and one in Orange City. Five more are expected to arrive on Thursday.

News release from Missouri River Historical Development, Inc.:

MRHD PRESENTS $225,000 IN DISCRETIONARY GRANTS

TO 20 WOODBURY COUNTY NONPROFITS

SIOUX CITY, IA (Dec. 6, 2021) – Missouri River Historical Development, Inc., (MRHD) presented Discretionary Grant gifts totaling $225,000 to 20 nonprofit organizations that serve the Woodbury County area.

In an effort to try to counter lost revenue during the 2020-2021 academic year, MRHD has designated $5,000 to each of the 12 Woodbury County high schools to support their performing arts activities. Discretionary Gifts committee chair Cyndi Hanson commented, “this total distribution of $60,000 won’t make up for all that high school students in performing arts lost out on last year, but we want to help strengthen their programs going forward.”

In a similar vein, four local performing arts theatres will receive $10,000 each, to be used to underwrite free tickets for marginalized residents of Woodbury County. The four theaters are: Sioux City Community Theatre; Lamb Regional Theatre; Haus of Qui and New Stage Players.

On Monday night, during their annual holiday dinner at Main + Abbey, MRHD presented $12,500 to Sleep in Heavenly Peace Chapter President Meredith Davies-Vogt for 50 beds for children ages 3-17 who are sleeping in undesirable conditions. Davies-Vogt explained, “each bed comes complete with a new mattress, sheets, blanket/comforter and pillow. Our mission is to make sure no kid sleeps on the floor in our town.”

Executive Director Becky Carlson accepted $40,000 from MRHD on behalf of Mary J Treglia Community House. The gift is to be applied to help resettle Afghanistan refugees by providing assistance with their housing deposit.

In support of their mission to transport America’s veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit memorials honoring the service and sacrifices they and other veterans made, MRHD presented $42,500 to Midwest Honor Flight President Aaron Van Beek. MRHD’s gift is designated toward the addition of up to 22 Woodbury County veterans for flights in 2022.

Briar Cliff University will play Luther College of Decorah at the first collegiate game at Field of Dreams in Dyersville, IA in 2022. MRHD presented BCU President Dr. Rachelle Keck a gift of $30,000 to help transport 100 university students and 62 high school students on a charter bus trip to the game.

MRHD Board President Stacy Harmelink stated, “It’s MRHD’s privilege to support nonprofits that contribute so much to the quality of life for Woodbury County residents. We thank them for their hard work. We are so grateful for our partner, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, for helping make these gifts possible.”

The Discretionary Gifts Committee members are: Committee Chair Cyndi Hanson, Mike Collett, Eddie Lofland, Larry Obermeyer, Angie Schrunk and Dale Tigges. The sum total of the Discretionary Gifts brings MRHD’s total contributions and pledges to Woodbury County nonprofits and governmental entities to more than $46 million since 1994.

News release from the City of Sioux City:

War Eagle Human Rights Award Honorees Announced

The Sioux City Human Rights Commission is pleased to announce recipients of the 2021 War Eagle Human Rights Award. This year’s awards will go to:

Carol Kelzer for her 13 years of work at Mary J. Treglia Community House helping aspiring Americans prepare for their naturalization examinations as well as understanding the privileges and responsibilities that come with citizenship. Carol also taught preschool children, as their parents learned English, preparing the children for kindergarten, teaching them English, and serving as a bridge between cultures.

Pat Trudell Gordon for her life time of work bettering our community and our country. In the early 1970’s, she founded the Native American Child Care Center, which continues to operate out of Grace United Methodist Church. In 1976, she founded Indian Youth of America which hosts events to help Native children connect with their culture. After graduating from law school in 1992, she worked for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Pat eventually returned home to continue her work with IYA full time.

Rabbi Guy Greene for his work bettering our community. In addition to leading Congregation Beth Shalom, he teaches at Morningside University and Western Iowa Tech. At Morningside, his signature course “Genocide in Our Time”, immerses his students in the religious, sociological, psychological, and political causes of genocide specific to the Shoah, as well as other genocides around the world, including the U.S. Rabbi Greene organizes community projects for genocide awareness, Sioux City's tolerance week programming, and interfaith community forums.

Annually, in celebration of Universal Human Rights Day, the Sioux City Human Rights Commission honors local individuals and organizations for outstanding public service in promoting civil and human rights. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the safety of our community, this event will be closed to the public. A private, small awards ceremony will be held at the Sioux City Public Museum on December 11th at 11:30 a.m. Safe social distancing practices will be implemented and practiced. We will be live streaming the event on Facebook, tune in @HumanRightsSC. The link for the event is https://fb.me/e/2G2beTpqf.

News release from the City of Sioux City:

War Eagle Human Rights Award Honorees Announced

The Sioux City Human Rights Commission is pleased to announce recipients of the 2021 War Eagle Human Rights Award. This year’s awards will go to:

Carol Kelzer for her 13 years of work at Mary J. Treglia Community House helping aspiring Americans prepare for their naturalization examinations as well as understanding the privileges and responsibilities that come with citizenship. Carol also taught preschool children, as their parents learned English, preparing the children for kindergarten, teaching them English, and serving as a bridge between cultures.

Pat Trudell Gordon for her life time of work bettering our community and our country. In the early 1970’s, she founded the Native American Child Care Center, which continues to operate out of Grace United Methodist Church. In 1976, she founded Indian Youth of America which hosts events to help Native children connect with their culture. After graduating from law school in 1992, she worked for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Pat eventually returned home to continue her work with IYA full time.

Rabbi Guy Greene for his work bettering our community. In addition to leading Congregation Beth Shalom, he teaches at Morningside University and Western Iowa Tech. At Morningside, his signature course “Genocide in Our Time”, immerses his students in the religious, sociological, psychological, and political causes of genocide specific to the Shoah, as well as other genocides around the world, including the U.S. Rabbi Greene organizes community projects for genocide awareness, Sioux City's tolerance week programming, and interfaith community forums.

Annually, in celebration of Universal Human Rights Day, the Sioux City Human Rights Commission honors local individuals and organizations for outstanding public service in promoting civil and human rights. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the safety of our community, this event will be closed to the public. A private, small awards ceremony will be held at the Sioux City Public Museum on December 11th at 11:30 a.m. Safe social distancing practices will be implemented and practiced. We will be live streaming the event on Facebook, tune in @HumanRightsSC. The link for the event is https://fb.me/e/2G2beTpqf.

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