News 7.1.20: C19 Numbers, Peaceful Protest, Masks in Schools and More

Jul 1, 2020

OROMO PROTEST IN SIOUX CITY, IA
Credit Jamila Gishe

The number of deaths in the Sioux City metro area due to COVID-19 reached 80 on Wednesday after local health officials reported the death of an older man in Woodbury County.  There are a dozen new cases in Woodbury County for 3,172.  Dakota County reported three news cases, for 1,783 in all.  There are 124 positive cases in Union County.

The Iowa Department of Public Health shows five more deaths in a 24-hour period and more than 300 positive test results.  There have been 717 deaths statewide and more than 29,400 positive cases.

There are currently 20 outbreaks at long-term care facilities, including four in northwest Iowa.  Touchstone Healthcare Community reports four cases with three recoveries.  And there are still outbreaks at Good Samaritan Society Newell and Pleasant View Home in Buena Vista County and Accura Healthcare of Milford in Dickinson County.

Members of Sioux City’s Oromo community carried signs saying “Oromo Lives Matter” today to bring attention to the violence against Oromo people in Ethiopia. Protestors there took to the streets following the killing of Hachalu Hundessa, a popular, political, Oromo singer.

It is reported that dozens of  protestors have been killed. The Ethiopian government has shut down the internet, making communication and coverage difficult.

The state’s largest teachers’ union is calling on state education officials to revise guidelines advising against requiring masks at schools to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.

The Iowa State Education Association says face coverings should be required and that schools can make exceptions for some students. 

Dr. Megan Srinivas, an infectious disease specialist, spoke on a briefing hosted by the ISEA. She says it’s easier for the virus to spread in closed areas like classrooms.

“Indoor spaces where our kids are sitting and learning are going to be high risk, especially if we’re not taking precautions that we can such as face coverings.”

The Iowa Department of Education says schools can choose to require masks, but the agency warns enforcing a face covering rule could raise issues with training and liability.

The Iowa Department of Education approved the Sioux City Community School District’s “Return-to-Learn” plan.

The plan includes summer school for certain grade levels and classes.

Students entering first, second, or 8th grades will attend classes for a couple of hours a day from August 3rd to the 14th.  Plus, older students enrolled in certain math courses such as Algebra and Geometry.

Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman says the grades and classes missed critical information to help in future academic endeavors when school closed in March.

The “Return-to-Learn” plan includes several options; in-person or online learning or a hybrid of the two depending on the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new survey of business leaders suggests the economy has begun to recover as businesses reopened in the past month in nine Midwest and Plains states, including all three Siouxland States.

The region's overall index jumped into positive territory at 50.3 in June from May's 43.5. Any score above 50 suggests growth, while scores below 50 suggest decline.

The National Endowment for the Arts announced more than $44.5 million dollars in funding for arts organizations through the CARES act.  One of the few Iowa groups receiving assistance was the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra.  The Orchestra received $50,000. A news release from the National Endowment for the Arts says the funding also includes state coronavirus aid.  There were 855 groups across the country receiving the assistance for salaries, facilities costs and artist fees.  Almost 20% of the money went to organizations in smaller metro areas, like Sioux City with populations below 250,000.

The Nebraska State Fair is still a go but will be scaled back considerably to protect people from the coronavirus. The fair’s board approved a slimmed-down schedule for this year’s event, which is scheduled from Aug. 28 through Sept. 7.