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NEWS 12.20.21

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Iowa is going into Christmas week with continued high levels of coronavirus activity and no significant gains in vaccination.

The Iowa Department of Public Health said 788 people were hospitalized on Monday, a slight decline from Friday’s 810. The agency said 171 people remained in intensive care, one person less than on Friday. The CDC says 64.1% of Iowans have received at least one dose of vaccine, leaving more than 35% of the population still unvaccinated.

Eastern Iowa hospitals Mercy Cedar Rapids and UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s announced last week they would postpone elective surgeries that weren’t urgent until after Christmas because of the increased patient load “has placed increasing strain on both hospitals’ capacity and staffing.”

Gov. Pete Ricketts and the state’s chief medical officer encouraged Nebraskans to prioritize their health this holiday season.

During a news conference Monday morning they told people to get vaccinated and ask their doctors to prescribe monoclonal antibody treatments should they contract COVID-19.

Nebraska has been allocated to 800-900 doses of monoclonal antibodies by the federal government, was able to secure an extra 600-800 doses each week by demonstrating a need for the treatment.

On other topics, the governor acknowledged the recent ransomware attack included an attack on the system used to manage human resources. Ricketts says the state is doing manual workarounds to maintain system functionality.

A news conference this afternoon with officials from the Sioux City School District and law enforcement stressed serious action will happen if students make threats against the school district. Several local teens were charged for sending out posts last week. After an investigation, none of the threats were credible, even so, students are still in legal trouble.

A delay in the Federal trial of a former South Sioux City high school assistant coach

Nathan Rogers was set to go to trial today in U.S. District Court in Omaha. The trial has been pushed back to late January.

Rogers pleaded not guilty in October to one count of producing child pornography and another for receiving it.

He also pleaded not guilty to accusations he sexually assaulted two minors in another case in Dakota County District Court.

A company that wants to build a pipeline to carry carbon dioxide from ethanol plants in Iowa and several other states to North Dakota where it would be stored underground is fighting Iowa regulators’ order to reveal the names of business and governments in the path of the $4.5 billion project. Summit Carbon Solutions has appealed to the Iowa Utilities Board and asked a court to intervene because it says the order would force it to identify many farmers who own land along the route because the land is often held by trusts or family corporations. Environmental groups argue that keeping the names secret will only make it harder to organize opposition to the project.

A line of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes that swept across the north-central U.S. last week has been classified by the National Weather Service as a serial derecho — the first on record December. At least 45 tornadoes have been preliminarily confirmed in the Dec. 15 storms that crossed the Great Plains and Midwest amid unseasonably warm temperatures. Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota took the brunt of the damage. Five deaths were blamed on the weather. A derecho shares similarities to a hurricane, but it has no eye and its winds come across in a line. The similarity is in the damage, which is likely to spread over a wide area.

Looks like there will not be a White Christmas in Siouxland this year. Local forecasts call for dry conditions for the next seven days.

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