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NEWS 3.2.22

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Siouxland District Health
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Siouxland District Health

Federal officials say bird flu has been detected in a backyard flock of chickens and ducks in western Iowa. It's an especially troubling development for a state that is home to the nation's largest number of egg-laying hens. State officials have quarantined the affected location in Pottawattamie County and the birds were killed to prevent the spread of the disease. Cases have been discovered in noncommercial flocks and farms across the nation in the past month. The first infection was identified at a turkey farm in Indiana on Feb. 9. In a 2015 outbreak, egg farmers in Iowa had to kill 33 million hens.

Federal officials are reporting as of today 202 Iowans are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, including five at Sioux City’s two hospitals.

The total number is down from last week’s number of 345, as state COVID hospitalizations continue to drop.

State health officials report there were more than 23 hundred positive COVID-19 tests confirmed in the past seven days.

That’s down significantly from more than 48 hundred positive tests reported last week.

State health officials also confirmed in the past week an additional 86 deaths from the virus, bringing the state’s total death count to more than 91 hundred. Siouxland District Health recorded 13 deaths in the past 30 days.

The Centers for Disease Control is reporting that 14 Iowa counties have high community levels of COVID-19 and are recommending people in these counties wear masks in indoor public settings.

According to state data, nearly 58 percent of all Iowans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Message from the SCCSD:

  • Masks are no longer required on SCCSD school buses. The CDC updated masking guidance for schools, no longer requiring masks to be work on buses or transportation operated by public or private school systems. (As always, students or staff, who would like to wear a mask, are encouraged to wear one.)

In the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address last night Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds blamed federal spending for the highest inflation rate in decades.
Biden acknowledged inflation in his speech and tied it to supply chain backups.

Reynolds also criticized the amount of funding put toward COVID-relief, although she has incorporated that funding into her own priorities. Reynolds has directed relief funds into broadband expansion, government human resources software and has proposed using the money to give bonuses to Iowa teachers.

A new monthly survey suggests that worries about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, soaring inflation and rising interest rates combined to undermine the confidence of business leaders in nine Midwest and Plains states. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said businesses also fear the war may worsen the ongoing supply chain problems and push commodity prices higher. The report’s confidence index fell to its lowest point ever in February when it hit 19.5, falling from January’s already low 36.2. Any score below 50 suggests a negative outlook. The monthly survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

The Iowa Senate has voted to send Governor Kim Reynolds a bill that would prohibit transgender women and girls from competing in female sports. IPR’s Grant Gerlock reports.

The ban headed to the governor’s desk includes K-12 schools, community colleges and colleges and universities.

Republicans say the bill is meant to protect Title IX protections for girls and women in sports.

Multiple lawsuits are in progress in other states with similar transgender sports bans. The bill passed by a vote of 31 to 17 with only Republicans voting in favor.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is ramping up his push for income tax cuts, a new state prison and a $500 million canal to claim water from Colorado. He's arguing that Nebraska is expected to collect more than enough revenue to pay for it all. The Republican governor’s remarks came just days after a state board predicted that Nebraska will receive $775 million more than expected. Ricketts has endorsed a measure that would lower Nebraska’s top individual and corporate income tax rate. He also has backed a new state prison proposal to replace the Nebraska State Penitentiary and a canal project between Nebraska and Colorado to preserve the state's water supply from the South Platte River

South Dakota House lawmakers have dismissed a proposal to fund two new schools structured around Oceti Sakowin language and culture. It deals a blow to Native American educators who have tried for years to get state support to rethink schooling in their communities. The Republican-controlled House Education committee rejected the bill Wednesday on a 4-8 vote. The proposal had already passed the Senate. It was the third year that Lakota lawmakers have brought the idea to fund the community-based schools through the state’s public school system. However, organizations representing school districts opposed the bill. They say that language immersion schools are already happening.

North Dakota’s biggest oil driller says it will commit $250 million to help fund a proposed pipeline that would gather carbon dioxide produced by ethanol plants across the Midwest and pump it underground for permanent storage. Billionaire oil tycoon Harold Hamm’s Continental Resources said Wednesday it's making the investment into Summit Carbon Solutions’ $4.5 billion pipeline. There are 31 ethanol facilities across Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and the Dakotas where emissions would be captured and piped to North Dakota to be buried. Continental officials say they have no plans to use the gas for enhanced oil recovery.

Five more Iowa counties have issued burn bans with three of them in the Siouxland area due to current weather conditions.

The counties include Monona County, Crawford County, and Harrison County. There are already burn bans for Woodbury and Plymouth Counties.

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