NEWS 1.4.21: More Local C-19 Deaths, Weekly Trends, Scam Warning and More

Jan 4, 2021

Credit CDC

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports three more COVID-19 related deaths in Woodbury County on Monday for 171 since the start of the pandemic. 

In one week, Iowa added 247 deaths and more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases.  In Woodbury County, there were 17 additional cases and a 14-day test positivity rate of 15.5%.  That is up two-percent points from a week ago.

Credit Siouxland District Health

Siouxland District Health released a weekly trend report that showed a slight increase in the percentage of positive tests for the week that ended on December 27th.  The report says previous improvements in infection rates were likely the result of smaller gatherings and people wearing masks.  However, over the holidays individuals may not have been as diligent in following guidelines.

Credit Siouxland District Health
Credit Siouxland District Health

South Dakota recorded more than 2,000 new cases in one week and 67 additional deaths.  In, Nebraska there were more than 7,000 new cases in a week and 113 additional deaths.  Dakota County health officials added two more deaths since the previous update on New Year’s Eve, for 58 in all.  There were 23 additional cases reported today.

Iowa’s Attorney General is warning of potential scams as people start receiving their stimulus checks.

In a new release Tom Miller says “scammers follow the headlines, and they’ll take advantage of our excitement, confusion and other emotions.”

The Federal Trade Commission says the government won’t call, text, email or contact you on social media to ask for Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers.

Plus, you can’t get your money faster through third parties.  Miller says the money could arrive through direct deposit, paper check or an Economic Impact Payment debit card.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds appears to be prepared to push schools to return students to classrooms this month. reinforcing her plans to prioritize in-person learning even when a local school board believes it’s too risky. The Des Moines school district’s request on Dec. 28 was the first to be rejected since August. Des Moines Superintendent Tom Ahart says the school board is concerned about the safety and well-being of its students and employees based on local virus conditions. Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo rejected the request on Dec. 30. Lebo echoed Reynolds' recent statements that students engaged in remote learning are falling behind academically and that schools are not primary drivers of spread of the virus.

Nebraska officials who are leading the state’s pandemic response expect a large increase in coronavirus vaccinations over the next two weeks after a slowdown over the holidays. New data from the state's tracking portal shows that Nebraska has given 36,360 vaccinations so far out of the 94,697 doses in its possession. Most who have received initial doses at this point are front-line health care workers who were given first priority. Nebraska began vaccinating people on Dec. 15 but saw sharp drops in daily doses administered on Dec. 25 and the two following days. The numbers rose to roughly 3,000 per day afterward but dropped again to 1,579 on Jan. 1.

The economy continues improving in nine Midwest and Plains states including Siouxland.  However, business leaders are less optimistic after the latest surge in coronavirus cases in the region, according to a new monthly survey released Monday.

The survey includes all three Siouxland states.

The overall index for the region suggests strong growth even though it dipped to 64.1 in December from November’s 69. Any score above 50 on the survey’s indexes suggests growth, while a score below 50 suggests recession.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, said the survey’s confidence index suggests business leaders are worried about the economy after the recent growth in virus cases across the region.

Nebraska lawmakers will begin a new session Wednesday that’s likely to be scaled back because of the pandemic, but they’ll still have a lot of big issues to debate, including a proposed $230 million prison and the mandatory redrawing of the state’s political districts.

High on this year’s priority list is the Legislature’s once-a-decade redistricting ritual, a bitterly partisan process where lawmakers redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts and others.

They'll also consider whether to pay for a proposed $230 million prison to reduce chronic overcrowding in Nebraska’s existing facilities.

South Dakota health officials say the state has gone over the 100,000 mark in the number of COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. Sunday's update showed 703 new cases that included two days of data because of the New Year’s holiday. The number of total positive tests stands at 100,532. The COVID Tracking Project says there were nearly 623 new cases per 100,000 people in South Dakota over the past two weeks, which ranks 34th in the country for new cases per capita. One in every 308 people in South Dakota tested positive in the past week.

South Dakota has reported 13 deaths of people who contracted COVID-19, along with 666 new coronavirus cases from a two-day reporting period. The state has seen a steady decline in cases, with the average number of daily cases reported declining by 36% over the last two weeks. The average number of deaths reported has also declined, but a fall surge resulted in the state recording the nation’s fifth-highest rate of COVID-19 deaths per capita, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. A total of 1,501 South Dakotans have died after contracting COVID-19.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — One of South Dakota’s largest hospital systems announces it is planning to increase testing for the coronavirus. The state is seeing a drop in new cases, but a high positivity rate of testing. Monument Health, the largest health care provider in western South Dakota, plans to test more people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19, including running mass testing events. The Department of Health reported 111 new coronavirus infections and no new deaths after the New Year’s holiday weekend. That's the lowest daily tally in three months, but the positivity rate of RT-PCR tests was over 16%.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Few Native American tribes have signed up to participate in clinical trials as coronavirus vaccines are developed. The reasons range from suspicion and distrust tied to unethical practices of the past to the quick nature of the studies, which typically may need several layers of approval from tribes. Researchers say that without participation from Native Americans, tribes won't know which vaccine might best be suited for their citizens. About a handful of tribes have agreed to allow researchers to enroll their citizens in vaccine trials, including in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. They point to a need to slow the virus among a population that's been disproportionately affected.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Authorities say a SkyWest flight from Milwaukee to Denver made an emergency landing in South Dakota after the flight crew reported a cracked windshield. No injuries were reported. The Federal Aviation Administration says the twin-engine aircraft was diverted to Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and landed without incident at 10:45 a.m. Saturday. No other details were available. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the FAA is investigating the incident.

Sioux City Police continue to investigate a deadly New Year’s Eve shooting.

18-year-old Mia Kritis of Sioux City was killed while attending a party.  Investigators say shots were fired into a home near Walker and Morningside Avenue by several guns.  Four others were hurt, and were in stable condition.

Police are still looking for witnesses who fled the scene.  In a Facebook post, the police department says they are not going to charge anyone for attending the party.