NEWS 3.31.21: C-19 Vaccine and Local Viral Update, SD State of Emergency, & More

Mar 31, 2021

Credit CDC

The state of Nebraska plans to open up vaccinations for anyone 18 years or older starting on Monday, April 5th.

Governor Pete Ricketts made the announcement this morning during a news conference.

Ricketts expects additional doses to arrive through the Federal Pharmacy Program, including a big influx of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Ricketts plans to receive his vaccine this weekend.

During a news conference that aired this morning on Siouxland Public Media, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said Iowa ranks 7th in the nation for vaccinations. She also says the new focus is on vaccination minority and immigrant groups in the state. Reynolds says research from the CDC shows the vaccine is the best way to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19.

Reynolds says if current vaccination levels hold up 75% of eligible Iowans will be vaccinated by early July. Vaccinations open up to anyone 16 or older in Iowa on Monday as well.

Anyone in South Dakota 17 years and older will be eligible for a vaccination against COVID-19 starting next week. Gov. Kristi Noem's announcement came amid a recent uptick in cases statewide. But state health officials also reported that 42% of people have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and about 65% those people have completed vaccination, which requires two shots in most cases. President Joe Biden and top health officials are warning that despite vaccines becoming widely available, Americans are declaring victory over the pandemic too early and letting their guard down against stopping infections. 

Appointments through Siouxland District Health are still available for major vaccination clinics next Tuesday and Thursday at the Siouxland Expo Center. The Pfizer vaccine is available for Iowa residents 16 and older.

The Winnebago Comprehensive Healthcare System opened up registration to anyone 16 or older, regardless of resident or tribal affiliation. The Winnebago Tribe has been proactive in providing vaccinations to patients of the 12 Clans Unity Hospital in Winnebago.

Health officials in Woodbury County added 42 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24-hours. They advise people stay home when sick, avoid crowds, and get the vaccine when available.

The 14-day test positivity rate in Woodbury County is 7.1%. That’s up slightly. The statewide rate is 4.6%.

The Iowa Department of Public Health showed more than 500 new cases of the novel coronavirus and no new deaths.

There are 191 hospitalized patients with the virus in the state, with 17 getting treated at Sioux City two hospitals.

Iowa’s Senior U.S. Senator is encouraging everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine. His grandson, House Speaker Pat Grassley, said on Iowa Press that he’s chosen not to get the vaccine yet. 

Republican Chuck Grassley had COVID-19 in November. He got his vaccine in February. He says he would advise his grandson to get the shot.

“But it's an individual decision. I'm not going to bad mouth anybody that doesn't want to get it.”  

Iowa is expected to open up vaccine appointments to everyone 16 and up on April 5th. Some counties have already done so.

Nebraska lawmakers have advanced a bill to lay the groundwork for an emergency suicide and mental health hotline. Senators gave the measure first-round approval with a 41-0 vote. The bill would create a task force with local stakeholders to help the state prepare and see what resources are needed. Some lawmakers raised concerns that the task force could eventually come back with a funding request, which could mean a new fee impose on phone bills.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem declared a state of emergeny through June 1st due to severe drought and dangerous fire conditions. The executive order allows the state to provide more assistance to local and volunteer fire departments.

Meanwhile, firefighters have started to gain control of wildfires in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The wildfires have forced the evacuation of more than 400 homes and closed Mount Rushmore. Three separate wildfires are burning Tuesday northwest of Rapid City. Two smaller blazes are burning southwest of Rapid City, including one inside the grounds of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The monument and some surrounding roads are closed.

Students in South Dakota’s public universities will pay an average of about $105 more for the upcoming academic year. The Board of Regents this week approved a tuition and mandatory fee hike of about 1%. On average, an in-state undergraduate student taking 30 credit hours next year will pay about $9,360 for tuition and mandatory fees, KOTVA-TV reported. These new rates are effective for the 2021-22 academic year that begins this summer. Tuition and fees cover part of the 2.4 percent salary raise for all university employees in the coming year.