Another 71 people died in Iowa of the coronavirus, including 3 more in Woodbury County. Siouxland District Health is no longer releasing information on the age or sex of COVID-19 related deaths. There were 39 new cases in the county and more than 1,400 statewide in a 24-hour period.
The total number of deaths in Iowa is 3,739.
Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that in the past 14 days, Iowa has reported almost 700 new confirmed cases per 100,000 people. That ranks the state 40th nationally during that period.
South Dakota reported 41 people died after contracting COVID-19, one of the highest single-day death tallies this month. The state has seen a sustained drop in new cases over the last month, with an average of almost 500 new cases over the last seven days.
The Department of Health reported 500 new cases today.
Increased deaths from the virus often lag behind spikes in cases, and the state’s rate of death per capita has remained among the highest in the country this month. A total of 1,430 people have died over the course of the pandemic.
Starting today, 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 the rules were 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.
The number of new unemployment claims processed in South Dakota dropped by nearly 25% during the most recent reporting week.
The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation reported that it processed almost 700 new claims for unemployment benefits during the week ending on Dec. 19.
However, the economy continued to see the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with unemployment numbers remaining higher than before the pandemic arrived in the U.S. Gov. Kristi Noem has pointed to the state’s relatively healthy economy to defend her decision to forego orders to slow virus outbreaks.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says the investigation into the death of a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle driven by the state’s attorney general is taking too long.
Noem says the Hyde County State’s Attorney’s Office should have decided by now whether Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg should be indicted for the death of 55-year-old Joe Boever in September. Authorities say Ravnsborg was distracted when he drifted onto the shoulder and struck Boever, but have not provided further details. Noem said in an email to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that the fact the investigation has lasted more than 100 days is a “disservice to the victim's family.”
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Sioux Falls officials are using fireworks and cannons to scare geese away from the city's airport. The city's animal control officers typically see thousands of geese migrate into the city as ponds freeze. They say their goal is to keep the airport, the surrounding area clear and a nearby golf course clear of geese so they use pyrotechnics and propane cannons to scare them away. Animal Control Supervisor Julie DeJong tells KELO-TV that the cannons fire only air and are environmentally friendly. The officers usually fire off their pyrotechnics and cannons during the daytime; geese typically don't fly at night.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A campaign to recall Lincoln’s mayor and four city council members has failed after petition circulators failed to gather enough signatures to trigger a recall election. The group LNK Recall says it came up thousands of signatures short in their quest to recall Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and hundreds short in the effort to recall the council members. The recall campaign was launched in October in response to new pandemic restrictions in Lincoln, including a city-wide mask mandate. Organizers targeted Gaylor Baird as well as council members James Michael Bowers, Richard Meginnis, Jane Raybould and Tammy Ward. All but Meginnis are registered Democrats, and the effort won support from local Republican activists.
Iowa State has The Associated Press Big 12 offensive and defensive players of the year and the league's top coach. The awards come after the Cyclones' best conference season ever. Running back Breece Hall is the unanimous choice for top offensive player with his league-best 130 yards rushing per game and 19 touchdowns. Linebacker Mike Rose was selected the top defender with his 90 tackles and four interceptions that are both tied for the league lead. Iowa State was 8-1 in Big 12 play in the regular season, a school record for conference wins.