News 12.7.20: Tri-State COVID-19 Update, SD Marijuana, Gable Honored, RAGBRAI and More

Dec 7, 2020

Credit Siouxland District Health Department

Iowa posted another 35 deaths from the coronavirus, continuing the high levels related to the pandemic according to the state coronavirus website.

The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Iowa has risen over the past two weeks from 29 deaths per day on Nov. 22 to 45 deaths per day on Sunday, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The state’s total death count of more than 2,700 is the 28th highest in the country and the 20th highest per capita.

State health officials reported on Monday 912 new cases in the previous 24 hours.

Dr. Eli Perecevich, an epidemiologist from the University of Iowa says cases have fallen in Iowa because schools closed for Thanksgiving and many have moved to online learning only.  On Twitter he says as schools open and with holiday gatherings we could see increases during the next month.

Siouxland District Health recorded 55 additional COVID-19 cases in Woodbury County for a total of more than 11,000 cases and 141 deaths.  There are 81 hospitalizations, which is much lower than last week’s high of 108. The 14-day test positivity rate is almost 19%. Anything above 15% shows high levels of community spread.

The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in Nebraska increased Sunday for the first time since late last month.  The number of  hospitalizations increased to 768 Sunday night after falling every day since the end of last month.  That total is significantly below the record of 987 set on Nov. 20, but it is more than triple where it was at the start of October.  Ricketts say currently about a third of the state hospital beds are available and 30% of beds in the ICU.

During a news conference this morning, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts says this is not the time to let our guard down when it comes to COVID-19.

He again stressed people avoid the three C’s: close contact, confined spaces and crowded places. 

South Dakota’s largest hospitals are at or above their capacity to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients, forcing some of the sickest patients to be flown out of state to receive care.  That’s according to the Argus Leader.

Police in Norfolk say a man was stabbed to death early Monday inside an apartment, and a Niobrara woman has been arrested in the case. Norfolk police said in a news release that officers were called to the apartment just after midnight and found 41-year-old Roger Saul dead inside with a stab wound to his neck. Witnesses told police that Saul and 24-year-old Latessa Thomas had been arguing in the apartment when Thomas grabbed a kitchen knife, threatened Saul, then stabbed him. Police found Thomas a few blocks away and arrested her on suspicion of first-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony. She was being held Monday at the Madison County Jail.

South Dakota’s top law enforcement officer says a measure legalizing marijuana in the state is legal and a lawsuit challenging it should be tossed out.  Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s office asked a judge in court filings Thursday to dismiss the lawsuit by the Pennington County Sheriff and Highway Patrol Superintendent Rick Miller. South Dakota in November became the first state to legalize recreational and medical pot on the same ballot, after supporters of the two measures joined forces and promoted them as a package deal.

The lack of visibility of Native Americans in exit poll data on network television hit a nerve in Indian Country in the days following the election. Some Natives responded with an outcry while others turned to humor to address what many describe as a longstanding problem. Native Americans make up less than 2% of the U.S. population and often are listed as “other” or denoted with an asterisk in datasets. Even when surveyed, the results can be considered statistically insignificant because the sample size isn’t large enough or the margin of error is too great to accurately reflect the population.

Christmas tree sellers say the coronavirus pandemic and the relatively mild weather are driving early, heavy traffic by shoppers this year. Some lots, including Baumgartner Family Christmas Trees in Sioux Falls, are running out of trees. Owner Kevin Baumgartner says everyone seems to be buying early this year. Wreaths are also selling at a rapid pace. Sellers say growers and cutters who make the wreaths were short on labor this year because of COVID-19. A tree shortage is also contributing to an early season. Riverview Christmas Tree Farm in Canton is already closed for the season because of fewer trees and high demand.


President Donald Trump presented the nation’s highest civilian honor to Dan Gable, a renowned wrestler and coach from Iowa who won a gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Trump called Gable “the greatest   

DAN GABLE AND PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
Credit Associated Press

wrestler, probably ever.” Gable is one of several sports figures to be presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom during Trump’s time in office. Gable was a champion wrestler at Iowa State University, compiling a 117-1 record and winning two NCAA titles. Gable would go on to an incredibly successful coaching career at the University of Iowa, where his teams won 15 NCAA titles.

Registration has started for next year’s Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.  The ride is scheduled to be back after being canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The starting city for 2021 is Le Mars on Sunday, July 25th.  RAGBRIA ends on Sunday, July 31st.  The route is the same as planned for this year, except for one change.  Maquoketa was supposed to be the final overnight city, but it will be replaced because of a planned construction project according to the Des Moines Register.  Other overnight locations are Storm Lake, Fort Dodge, Iowa Falls, Waterloo and Anamosa and ending in Clinton.  The other host cities and towns along the 420-mile route will be named on January 30th