NEWS 3.16.21: Vaccination Clinics, UK Variant, Estate Tax, and More

Mar 16, 2021

Credit Iowa Department of Public Health

Two Siouxland-area health departments have now disclosed cases of the UK variant of the novel coronavirus.

The director of Siouxland District Health confirmed one case of the variant was reported to health officials in Woodbury County at the beginning of March. No other cases have been recorded.

Meanwhile, the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department coverage area recently saw its first case. The health department covers the counties of  Cedar, Dixon, Wayne, and Thurston.

The new variant appears to be more contagious and could cause more severe illness.Siouxland District Health announced three new vaccination clinics for the Tyson Event Center for Woodbury County residents. The clinics will take place March 25th, 29th, and 30th and will be expanded to include people 16 and older with underlying conditions determined by the CDC. Appointments will open up this Thursday at 3 pm on the health department’s website siouxlanddistricthealth.org or can be made over the phone by calling (712) 234-3922.

Woodbury County recorded 25 new cases in the past 24 hours. The 14-day test positivity rate has moved up more than ½ of a percentage point to 7.9%.

Today, the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website showed more than 413,000 Iowans are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. There was one more death and more than 400 new cases.

The South Dakota Board of Regents says the state’s six public universities and two special schools are planning for a return to more normal operations this fall. The board's executive director Brian Maher says that with vaccines available now in higher education and K-12 settings, the universities are looking forward to more normal operations ahead. The Board of Regents is the governing body for Black Hills State University, Dakota State University, Northern State University, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, South Dakota State University, University of South Dakota, South Dakota School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, and South Dakota School for the Deaf.

Iowa’s senior U.S. Senator wants to see a repeal of the federal estate tax. Republican Chuck Grassley recently joined a couple dozen Republican colleagues in reintroducing an effort to permanently end the tax on a deceased person’s property.

Grassley says the tax could hit family farms, ranches and businesses hard, especially as land prices are increasing. 

No family farmers should have to sell their land to pay Uncle Sam just because the head of the household died. 

The federal estate tax currently applies to a person with an estate worth more than 11.7 million dollars – or 23.4 million for a married couple.  Attempts to permanently repeal the tax in 2005 through 2006 didn’t get enough votes in the Senate. Another effort in 2019 didn’t make it out of a House committee.

An eastern Iowa school board has voted to drop the district's “Indians” nickname and mascot following renewed appeals to do so from Native American tribes and organizations. Television station KWQC reports that the Camanche Community Schools board voted 5-1 Monday night to stop use of the mascot by the end of the school year. The decision comes as teams on all levels across the country are changing or reconsidering mascots considered to be culturally insensitive. Most spoke in favor of keeping the mascot during the meeting’s public forum segment, citing pride in the nickname and some denouncing the move as “cancel culture.” But board member Shane Bark noted there have been calls for 30 years for the district to drop the mascot.