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NEWS 1.31.22

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Iowa Department of Public Health
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Iowa health officials are reporting the state’s COVID-19 test positivity rate and hospitalizations are decreasing.

Officials reported today (Monday) that 849 Iowans are hospitalized, a decrease of about 10%.

The 14-day test positivity rate is at almost 23%.

According to state data, nearly 57 percent of all Iowans are fully vaccinated.

However, there is an uptick in outbreaks at long-term care facilities with 107. That’s up from Friday when there were 95 and nearly five times the number from the end of December.

Since the pandemic began, Iowa reports 8,501 have died.

A new report by the state auditor’s office has found Iowa state health officials accurately reported COVID-19 numbers during the first part of the pandemic.

The report analyzed Iowa’s COVID-19 data from March 1, 2020 to May 17, 2021. It compared the state health department’s public COVID-19 dashboard to data in its disease surveillance system.

State Auditor Rob Sand says it found some issues that drew public complaints were out of the state’s control.

The late entries that a lot of people were talking about suspicious about early in the pandemic, were not because the state was messing anything up. It was because the private labs that were doing the testing were regularly submitting results very late to the state of Iowa. 

In a response to the report, IDPH Director Kelly Garcia said this highlights the need to update the department’s outdated IT and data systems before the next emergency.

In South Dakota another 13 died due to complications of COVID-19, for a total of 2,650.

During the past week, the state has been averaging about six deaths a day, the same number as a year ago.

There were 1,000 new infections statewide.

A South Dakota bill that would ban transgender students from using school bathrooms that match their gender identity has cleared its first hurdle in the Legislature. The House State Affairs committee sent the bill to a vote on the House floor. The Republican-controlled Legislature has taken up several bills aimed at transgender youth this year. Transgender advocates and organizations representing school districts say the bills will only increase the bullying and alienation trans students face. But many Republican lawmakers have shown a refusal to accept trans students’ gender identity. They instead insist that students should be assessed based on the biological sex on their birth certificate.

U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota is seeking reelection to a third term. The 45-year-old Republican on Monday announced his run for the state’s lone House seat in a statement that touted his conservative record and effectiveness on agriculture policy. He is facing a primary challenge from state lawmaker Rep. Taffy Howard, who is running to his political right. Democrats have not announced a candidate for the general election. Johnson has over $2 million in campaign funds at his disposal, while Howard has $114,000 in cash on hand.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem reelection campaign says that she has raised $8.5 million in 2021. She is touting a historical fundraising haul for a South Dakota gubernatorial candidate. The Republican governor has $7.3 million on hand across multiple committees, according to her campaign. Noem has created both a federal political action committee and an in-state reelection campaign account. Noem faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Steve Haugaard, a former House Speaker who is running to the right of Noem. His recent financial filings were not yet available from the Secretary of State.

Today was the fifth annual Latino Day on the Hill at the Iowa Capitol.

The event is organized by the Iowa Commission on Latino Affairs. Organizers canceled last year’s event due to COVID and say they are excited to start up again. Commission vice-chair Marlú Abarca led the event where she introduced the theme and main focus of the commission for the year: mental health and access to it in Latino communities.

“It's common across a lot of different marginalized communities. But it is something that's very stigmatized in the Latino community. So, we want to be able to have a safe space where we can talk about it and talk about the intersections of our mental health with our advocacy.”

This is the first time the commission is full in several years. The commission is partnering with a nonprofit in their legislative priorities for the year, since they couldn’t meet full quorum status before the event.

State officials say a Lincoln trash truck caused more than $200,000 damage to a limestone wall at the Nebraska State Capitol. The state filed a lawsuit last week against Uribe Refuse Services over the damage to the building that is a registered National Historic Landmark. Assistant Nebraska Attorney General Erik Fern said in the lawsuit that a truck owned by Uribe rolled down a loading ramp and collided with the wall of the capitol on April 28, 2020. Fern said the trash company was negligent because the driver didn’t maintain control of the truck and brake properly. Uribe hasn’t yet responded to the lawsuit.

Three children have died after a home caught fire in a rural area of northern Nebraska. The fire broke out just after 3:30 a.m. Saturday in the town of Pierce. Three people got out, but a 17-year-old, 15-year-old and 12-year-old were unable to escape. Nebraska State Fire Marshal Agency Chief Investigator Adam Matzner says in a news release that they were pronounced dead at the scene. Their names were not released. Two people were uninjured. One person was treated at a hospital and released. Matzner says the fire was accidental and caused by a wood-burning stove.

News release from LifeServe Blood Center:

Blood donations needed more than ever to support local life-saving care

Sioux City, Iowa; January 31, 2022 – Blood donation is needed now more than ever, with LifeServe Blood Center noting it is currently experiencing a shortage like never before.

When the inventory of blood is significantly limited, it can be a great concern when delivering life-saving care. Nik Gonzales, Flight Lead with MercyOne Siouxland Air Med, says blood is a critical need when it comes to trauma services.

“Blood is a precious resource that we need every day in our hospitals, Air Med, and communities,” said Gonzales. “It also greatly improves clinical outcomes. I encourage anyone who is able, to donate blood.”

Some common uses of donated blood include:

  • Trauma transfusion
  • Cardiovascular surgery
  • Cancer treatments
  • Hemolytic anemia treatment
  • Clotting in your liver or liver failure
  • Burns
  • Organ transplant

Schedule your next appointment or become a first-time blood donor by signing up through LifeServe. The Air Med flight team will also be sponsoring a blood drive in May.

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