NEWS 2.16.21: Power Problems, Arctic Impact on Local School, C-19 Vaccine Update, and More

Feb 16, 2021

Credit National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

A second day of Arctic temperatures across Middle America have prompted rolling power outages Tuesday morning in Nebraska and a call for energy conservation in Iowa. Residents in Nebraska experiences some of the coldest weather they've seen early Tuesday, putting a strain on the power grid that saw the state's power utilities implementing rolling outages. Nebraska’s largest utilities — the Omaha and Nebraska Public Power Districts — said the planned power outages were over by midmorning and they were working to restore power to all customers.

But more outages could be required later in the day. 

A spokesperson for MidAmerican Energy says the company is well-equipped to continue to deliver uninterrupted energy to electric customers during this cold snap. The rolling outage situation is affecting electric customers served by utilities connected to the Southern Power Pool system, which includes some areas in Iowa. MidAmerican Energy customer are connected to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator.

Today’s fridge air forced the evacuation of a Sioux City school building.

A spokesperson for the Sioux City Community School District says extreme cold broke a pipe Perry Creek Elementary. Students were dismissed almost two hours early. Water has since been cleaned up and classes will resume tomorrow.

Iowa continues to see thousands of people vaccinated, despite a weather system that has pushed freezing air and snow into the state in recent days. The Iowa Department of Public Health reported that there are now more people in Iowa who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose than the number who have been infected by the coronavirus. By midday Tuesday, more than 487,000 people had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The state's online virus-tracking dashboard showed more than 356,000 cases had been confirmed in the state. Still, hospitalizations for the virus in Iowa have ticked up in recent days, with 40 people admitted to Iowa hospitals in the last day.

Nebraska ranks in the middle of the pack in the rate of administering coronavirus vaccines, but state officials are working to speed up distribution of the shots. The state ranked 33rd among states by administering 14,770 shots per 100,000 people as of Sunday, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall, Nebraska has administered 285,708 of the 407,500 doses it has received — or roughly 70% of the doses.

At a news conference earlier this month, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said Iowa was 47th in the nation in getting vaccine from the federal government.

The Iowa Department of Public Health added 26 more deaths due to COVID-19 for almost 5,300 and more than 500 new cases, including 23 more in Woodbury County. The 14-day test positivity rate is 5.7%  All but one county is below  the 15% threshold. That is Adair County with 24%.

Vaccination Clinic

Siouxland District Health announced new information surrounding Woodbury County’s next vaccination clinic on February 24th. Appointments will open Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. online and by phone. Groups elgible to receive the vaccine are Phase 1A and Phase 1B Tier 1, including people 65-years of age or order, first responders, teachers and school staff, childcare workers and healthcare workers.

News release from Siouxland District Health:

Siouxland District Health to Open Appointments for February 24th Phase 1B COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

The next public COVID-19 vaccination clinic for Woodbury County is scheduled for Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at the Tyson Events Center. The groups eligible to receive the vaccine are Phase 1A and Phase 1B Tier 1, including Woodbury County residents that are 65 years of age or older, and the following frontline workers in Woodbury County:

  • First responders including firefighters, police officers, and child welfare social workers
  • PK-12 school staff
  • Early childhood education staff
  • Childcare workers
  • Phase 1A healthcare workers who have not received their first dose of vaccine

Siouxland District Health Department, in partnership with our local medical community, will be offering the vaccination clinic for these groups. This clinic is by appointment only, and appointments will become available for the public to register at 3:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 18, 2021. These appointments are only open to the groups listed above, and identification showing proof of eligibility will be required at the appointment.

Registration can be accessed at the Siouxland District Health Department website at http://www.siouxlanddistricthealth.org/ beginning at 3:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 18, 2021.

For individuals age 65 and older that do not have the ability to make the appointment online, SDHD will have assistance available to make the appointment over the phone by calling 712-234-3922 beginning at 3:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 18, 2021. Please note that

Local medical providers will also be working to assist their highest- risk patients that are eligible to receive vaccine get signed up for an upcoming appointment.

While all the above-listed individuals are currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, the amount of vaccine that we have is not enough to vaccinate everyone in this group immediately. We anticipate that these appointments will fill up quickly, and we appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through this process with the vaccine that we are allocated. Once these appointments are filled, the registration will close. There is not a waiting list being created at this time for future appointments, so we ask that people not call and ask to be placed on a list. The next public clinic is planned for March 3rd as long as we have vaccine available, and SDHD will notify the public when appointments are available for that date. Please rest assured that anyone in the eligible groups that wishes to receive vaccine will have the opportunity to receive it in the coming weeks.

Years of corruption and mismanagement allegedly preceded the arrests of a northwest Iowa town’s mayor, police chief and three current and former clerks who are charged with theft and fraud. Officials in the city of Armstrong stole tens of thousands of dollars in public funds, falsified public records to conceal their wrongdoing and used city property for personal gain. Prosecutors allege in a court document that some of the wrongdoing dates back to 2013 and continued in 2020. The arrests over the weekend stunned the city of 900 people, which is located near Iowa’s border with Minnesota and about 40 miles from the popular Okoboji vacation destination in the state’s northwest corner.

An election watchdog group has filed a federal lawsuit in Washington claiming the Iowa-based nonprofit organization Iowa Values violated election laws by failing to register as a political committee while spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the reelection of Sen. Joni Ernst. Campaign Legal Center, a Washington-based nonprofit campaign finance watchdog group, filed the lawsuit on Friday. The lawsuit asks a federal judge to declare that Iowa Values became a political committee as of June 2019 and order the group to register, file documents and to provide information on fundraising and expenditures. The lawsuit also seeks a civil penalty against Iowa Values along with court and attorney fee costs.