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NEWS 4.6.22

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Federal officials are reporting as of today, 33 Iowans are hospitalized with COVID-19.

That’s the lowest number of hospitalizations reported since March 2020

State officials have confirmed 774 positive tests in the past week, a slight increase from the number of positive tests reported last week.

Health officials have also added nine Iowans to the state’s COVID death count, bringing the total to more than 95 hundred.

According to state data, over 58 percent of all Iowans are fully vaccinated against the virus.

The South Dakota Department of Health added 10 additional deaths in the past week as new infections continue to fall. Just over 40 people are hospitalized with just three in intensive care. For the first time since November, there wasn't an active case among children 9 years and younger.

The Nebraska Attorney General says he'll drop his lawsuit seeking to block the city of Omaha's now-lifted mask mandate once a new ordinance goes into effect that will strip authority to issue such mandates from the Douglas County health director. Attorney General Doug Peterson has argued in the lawsuit that the Douglas County Health Director doesn’t have the authority to issue a mask mandate unless the state approves it beforehand. Peterson said the Omaha City Council's vote Tuesday to strip authority from the health department’s office and place authority for emergency health policies with the Omaha mayor and City Council creates “accountability to the citizens of Omaha.”

Nebraska lawmakers have failed to overrule Gov. Pete Ricketts’ veto of a bill that would have forced him to apply for $120 million in federal pandemic rental assistance, leaving the state as the only one to flat-out refuse the aid. Supporters in the one-house Legislature fell one vote short Tuesday of the 30 they needed to overcome the Republican governor’s rejection of the money. Lawmakers who pushed for Nebraska to seek the extra aid say it makes no sense to turn away the money. Ricketts and other critics argue that Nebraska still has $30 million in unspent money from an earlier round of federal aid.

A lawmaker who will cast a vote next week on whether to impeach South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg says he gave him legal advice following Ravnsborg's involvement in a fatal car crash. Rep. Scott Odenbach, who at the time was running for the House seat he eventually won, says Ravnsborg reached out to him for input on a public statement that was released two days after the attorney general struck and killed Joe Boever, a pedestrian who was walking along a rural highway in September 2020. Odenbach, a Republican and Spearfish attorney, told North Dakota special agents that he gave Ravnsborg advice on the wording of the statement, according to audio released in the impeachment probe.

Republican Senator Joni Ernst says President Biden’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court is “a highly qualified attorney,” but Ernst says she cannot vote to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's nomination.

For more on the story click here: https://www.radioiowa.com/2022/04/06/ernst-announces-opposition-to-jackson-nomination-to-supreme-court/

Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Chuck Grassley, also plans to vote against Jackson’s nomination.

Jackson is on a clear path to joining the nation’s highest court, as three other Republicans in the Senate have announced they’ll join with Democrats to confirm Jackson.

Bird flu has made its way to Nebraska's western edge. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture reported Wednesday that a fifth case of avian influenza had been confirmed in a small backyard flock in Scotts Bluff County. State Veterinarian Roger Dudley said in a department news release that the farm has been quarantined and the birds — a mix of chickens and waterfowl — have been killed and incinerated. The department is also setting up a more than 6-mile surveillance zone around the property, per federal Agriculture Department policy. The highly contagious virus has spread from flock to flock since February, and nearly 23 million birds have been killed across the United States to limit the spread of the virus.

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