NEWS 12.23.20: Blizzard Warning, Dakota County C-19 Deaths, Nebraska Eases Some Restrictions & More

Dec 23, 2020

Credit National Weather Service

We are getting a “White Christmas” courtesy of a winter storm.

Blizzard warnings are posted for all of Siouxland due to snow, strong winds and bitter cold until 9 tonight. 

The weather is creating treacherous travel conditions.

The National Weather Service says Sioux City is expected to receive three inches of snow. But, some spots in the region could see 5-to-7 inches.

Because of worsening weather conditions, Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott issued a snow emergency.

The emergency declaration prohibits parking or leaving a vehicle unattended on an emergency snow route street, noted by a blue and white sign with a snowflake. 

Credit City of Sioux City

Vehicles should park on the odd numbered side of the street beginning Wednesday, December 23. They should be moved to the even side of the street beginning Thursday, December 24 at 7:00 a.m.                                                                                                                             

If there is a No Parking sign on the street, vehicles are not permitted to park there and must be moved to another location.

Dakota County Health officials announced the deaths of four more people due to COVID-19 complications. Specific information about the individuals who died will not be released.  The health department also added 14 additional cases for a total of 3,547. Fifty-six people have died during the pandemic.

Nebraska further relaxed the state’s social distancing restrictions because the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus has continued to decline. Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday that the rules would be eased because less than 15% of the state’s hospital beds have been occupied by virus patients over the past week, on average. The new rules that take effect Thursday will allow indoor gatherings up to 75% of a building’s capacity, up from 50% now, and the restrictions on elective surgeries will also be lifted. Rules requiring people at bars and restaurants to remain seated will also be eliminated.

Another 15 people in Iowa died of the coronavirus and there were nearly 2,000 confirmed infections in a 24-hour period.  

South Dakota health officials are urging people to take coronavirus precautions during the holidays, saying gatherings threaten to undo the state’s recent success in slowing infections.

December has been marked with good news, with new cases continuing to decline and COVID-19 vaccines arriving. The Department of Health reported more than 500 people tested positive and no new deaths. However, the state this month has still reported the nation’s highest rate of deaths per capita.

South Dakota health officials are urging people to take coronavirus precautions during the holidays, saying gatherings threaten to undo the state’s recent success in slowing infections.

December has been marked with good news, with new cases continuing to decline and COVID-19 vaccines arriving. The Department of Health reported 531 more people tested positive and no new deaths. However, the state this month has still reported the nation’s highest rate of deaths per capita.

South Dakota’s Secretary of Health says the arrival of vaccine shipments and the absence of a feared post-Thanksgiving spike in cases offered some reason for hope.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota has reported a drop in virus cases as hospital systems in the state readied to administer a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Moderna. Monument Health, the largest hospital system in the western part of South Dakota, began administering the vaccine to hospital workers and staff at long-term care facilities in several locations. Meanwhile, the largest hospital systems in the eastern part of the state prepared to receive shipments of the Moderna vaccine and distributing it in the coming days. Health officials reported 436 people had tested positive for the virus. The count of people with active infections dropped to the lowest level since October. 


Media Release:

Gov. Ricketts Announces New Directed Health Measures to Take Effect on Thursday

 

LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that the State is moving from the “yellow” to “blue” phase of its coronavirus pandemic response plan.  As a result, the State of Nebraska is issuing new Directed Health Measures (DHMs) effective 12:01 AM on Thursday, December 24, 2020.  The new DHMs change some of the restrictions put in place to help manage the coronavirus pandemic. 

Nebraska’s pandemic response plan links DHM restrictions to the percentage of staffed hospital beds in Nebraska filled by coronavirus patients.  The percentage is below 15% (7-day rolling average), which is the threshold for the State moving to the “blue” phase of its pandemic plan.

Moving from the “yellow” to “blue” phase involves the following DHM changes:

  • Seating persons in groups of 8 or less returns to guidance for restaurants, bars, wedding/funeral receptions, and other venues. 
  • The requirement for individuals at bars and restaurants to be seated unless ordering food, using the restroom, or playing games returns to guidance.
  • The maximum capacity for indoor gatherings goes from 50% to 75%.
    • Only certain venues where people convene are considered “gatherings” under the State’s DHMs.  Go to dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus and click on “Directed Health Measures” for details.
  • Elective surgeries can resume without restriction.

New DHMs will be posted on the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website in the coming days.  To view them, go to dhhs.ne.gov/coronavirus.gov, and click on the link for “Directed Health Measures.” 

Executive Order 20-36 remains in force.  It gives public bodies the option to meet virtually by videoconference or teleconference through January 31, 2021.  Full text of the executive order is available by clicking here.

A chart comparing the color-coded phases of the State’s pandemic response plan is available by clicking here.