NEWS 1.7.21: C-19 Teacher Death, Vaccine Update and Reaction After Violence at the U.S. Capitol

Jan 7, 2021

CHERIE DANDURAND
Credit Woodbury Central School District

A northwest Iowa teacher has died of complications of COVID-19.

The superintendent of the Woodbury Central School District in Moville confirmed the death of 53-year-old Cherie Dandurand who first started in the district in 1991.

School was called off early yesterday after hearing the news of Dandurand’s death.

She taught middle school social studies.

According to the Iowa COVID-19 tracker website, a staff member at North High School in Sioux City died of complications of COVID-19 in October.  The Sioux City Community School District wouldn’t comment on the death, insiders say the staff member wasn’t working when she was infected.

The newest White House Coronavirus Task Force Report has found Iowa’s rates of new cases and test positivity remain in the red zone. And community transmission is still widespread.

It found Iowa had a rate of 276 new infections per 100 thousand residents last week, below the national average of 413 new infections per 100 thousand. 

But it also found the state’s test positivity rate has increased and that 96 percent of Iowa’s counties have moderate to high levels of community spread.

CNN reported last month that the White House will no longer proactively send its weekly reports to each state, who may instead request to receive them.

State health officials this week confirmed they are not requesting the report, but did not give a reason why.

The Iowa Department of Public Health recorded five more deaths due to complications of COVID-19 and more than 1,900 new cases, including 53 new cases in Woodbury County.  There have been 171 deaths.  The 14-day test positivity rate is now 17%, up slightly from yesterday.

Credit Siouxland District Health

Siouxland District Health provided an update on coronavirus vaccines in Woodbury County.  So, far both hospitals in Sioux City have received almost 3,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.  The hospitals were to receive 975 more doses.  One already has.  And, when the other hospital gets their doses it will boost the number to 3,900 total doses.  Five-hunred doses of the Moderna vaccine will to doctor’s offices for staff and EMT personnel.  Officials say vaccine won’t be available to the general public until late spring or summer. 

The number of vaccines in Nebraska jumped significantly this week as the state continued to inoculate health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.

The state said almost 14,000 (13,732) vaccinations were done on Tuesday.  That’s three times more than the high right before Christmas.

Officials have said they expect the pace of vaccine distribution to speed up over the next two weeks.

At least 53,418 of the 108,188 doses of the vaccine the state has received have now been administered.

The state reported 1,436 new virus cases and 11 deaths Wednesday to give the state 172,469 cases and 1,703 deaths since the pandemic began. 

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says there are still “a lot of questions” about the results of the presidential election.

Reynolds condemned the violence by pro-Trump extremists at the U.S. Capitol yesterday. She said we all have a role to play in dialing down the rhetoric, but she didn’t condemn President Trump’s unsupported claims about widespread election fraud that helped incite the mob. 

Reynolds says the concerns of voters who don’t believe that the results were accurate need to be addressed.

“And you know it has to be self-evident. They can’t just be told. Americans can’t be told it is. They have to believe it. It has to be transparent, it has to be secure, it has to be strict, and it has to be fair.” 

Courts have ruled over and over again that Trump’s campaign presented no evidence that there was enough voter fraud to change the election results. Asked if she regrets her closeness to Trump and not recognizing Joe Biden as president-elect sooner, Reynolds said “we need to stop pointing fingers and move forward.” 

A former U.S. congressman for Iowa has announced he's leaving the Republican Party following Wednesday’s violent assault on the Capitol.

Former Rep. Jim Nussle announced on Twitter that he “will no longer claim I am a Republican," expressing outrage over the rioting in which mobs stormed the U.S. Capitol and forced lawmakers to be rushed from the building.

Nussle also wrote that he was devastated by the actions of “too many elected Republicans (some I know and served with) and supporters.”

Nussle represented Iowa congressional districts from 1991-2007. He lost Iowa’s 2006 gubernatorial race against Democrat Chet Culver.

Iowa’s congressional delegation was unanimous in its rejection of attempts to delay confirmation of Joe Biden’s Electoral College win.

Democrat Cindy Axne and Republicans Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa and Ashley Hinson previously announced they would accept the Electoral College results.

Newly-elected representative Randy Feenstra of Hull issued a statement that says in part “Frustrations over the results of the election are understandable, but resorting to violence and anarchy is completely unacceptable.”

Republican South Dakota Sen. John Thune calls the actions of rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol “thuggery” and condemned the mob of Trump supporters who caused chaos, mayhem and destruction. Thune said he hoped the rioters got a clear message that “they will not stop our democracy from moving forward.”

Congress concluded the electoral vote count early Thursday.

Thune says misinformation about wide-spread fraud in the election results fueled Wednesday’s violent riots and that President Donald Trump’s rhetoric likely played a factor in what happened. 

An activist who helped organize Black Lives Matter protests in Iowa is asking why more pro-Trump extremists were not arrested after storming and vandalizing the U.S. Capitol.

Justyn Lewis is founder of the group Des Moines’ Selma he says police did not meet Trump supporters with the same force as racial justice protesters over the summer.

"White males are given the space to storm a capitol, not be fired upon, not be questioned. And they let a lot of those people go that have destroyed a national monument."

Four people died and around 80 people were arrested during protests and the assault on the Capitol. The FBI is asking the public to share information that could identify others who were involved.

Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds and four top Iowa officials cooperated in making a marketing video for a company that has received no-bid contracts during the state’s coronavirus response. The arrangement between the state and Utah-based Domo Inc. has raised allegations of favoritism and improper use of public resources. Domo features interviews with Reynolds, state medical director Caitlin Pedati, chief operations officer Paul Trombino and two others in the video. The officials paint their management of COVID-19 as a success story for Iowa and the company. Reynolds spokesman Pat Garrett says Domo “wanted a testimonial on the success" of the Test Iowa program and the governor and others agreed to participate.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska lawmakers have kicked off a new session with plans to redraw the state’s political districts and promises to minimize the dysfunction that has creeped into the Legislature over the last several years. The new session began on a cordial note, with newly elected Speaker of the Legislature Mike Hilgers pledging to treat all senators equally and ensure full and fair debate on all measures that come before them. Even so, lawmakers will face some contentious debates this year, including their once-a-decade redistricting ritual where they reshape the state’s congressional and legislative districts. They’ll also consider a proposal to build a new state prison to ease overcrowding and measures to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Nebraska.

And, our wet Wednesday broke the record for most rainfall in 24- hours.  The National Weather Service says the Sioux Gateway Airport received .44 of rain, beating the previous record set back in 2010 by one-hundreth of an inch.