News 7.8.20: C-19 Numbers, Honken Execution Update, Wright Wins, Sen. Ernst on Solar Energy and More

Jul 8, 2020

U.S. SENATOR JONI ERNST
Credit Blue Horizon Energy

The state of Iowa reports seven more Iowans have died from COVID-19.  There are more than 400 new cases as well, including 9 more in Woodbury County for a total of 3,261 and 44 deaths.  Statewide there are more than 32,300 positive cases and 732 deaths.  In Dakota County, there are a total of 1,800 cases after three new ones were added today.

Nebraska has seen 20,100 confirmed cases and 282 deaths.  There have been 43 positive cases in Dakota County in the past two weeks according to the state’s coronavirus website.  And 58 in Thurston in that same timeframe.

Dakota County health officials report three new cases for a total of 1,800 and 38 deaths.

In South Dakota there are 79 new cases and 98 deaths.  Union County reports 137 positive cases.  There are 371 positive cases in Lincoln County.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has re-imposed some regulations that were loosened during the early weeks of the pandemic.

Noem's new order keeps a state of emergency in place for purposes of federal coronavirus funding.

Under Noem's new executive order, South Dakotans whose driver’s licenses, permits and nondriver’s identification cards that have expired have until Dec. 30 to renew them.  The deadline for a title or registration for a vehicle, manufactured home or boat is August 1st.

A new report studying the impact of the coronavirus on workers in meat processing plants has found that 87% of people infected were racial or ethnic minorities and that at least 86 workers have died. The report released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined more than 16,000 COVID-19 cases at 239 plants in 21 states. It offers perspective on how the virus devastated U.S. pork, beef and poultry processing plants, but the figures likely understate the problem as Iowa officials declined to participate in the study. The data shows 56% of coronavirus illnesses involved Hispanic workers, 19% were non-Hispanic Blacks and 12% were Asian.

Iowa’s four Catholic bishops are asking President Trump to cancel the execution of an Iowan found guilty of killing five people, including two children.

Dustin Honken was convicted in Sioux City back in 2004 for murdering a family near Mason City in 1993.

The bishops, including Bishop of the Sioux City Diocese, R. Walker Nickless, are asking President Trump to commute Honken’s sentence to life in prison. 

The execution is scheduled for July 17th at a federal prison in Indiana.

Political newcomer Justin Wright beat state lawmaker Tim Kacena yesterday in a special election for Woodbury County Supervisor in District 2.  

WOODBURY COUNTY SUPERVISOR-ELECT JUSTIN WRIGHT
Credit Justin Wright

Wright is a Republican and he teaches at North High.  He says there are a number of social service initiatives the county could work on without spending more money.

“There is an opportunity to address issues like food insecurity in our area, to address access  to mental health services, child care services, to improve the communication here locally between the organizations that provide those services here and the people who need them.” 

Unofficial results show Wright picked up 53% of the vote over Kacena, a Democrat and retired firefighter, who just wrapped up his final legislative session in Des Moines.  More than 9,000 voters or about 16% took part in the election. 90 percent of voters cast absentee ballots to fill the remaining term left by supervisor Jeremy Taylor.  Taylor stepped down after issues arose over his residency. 

Election day was plagued by confusion after several people showed up at seven polling places after forgetting they already filled out an absentee ballot.

One northwest Iowa school district is turning to solar energy.

A ground breaking took place yesterday in Marcus for the Marcus-Meriden,-Cleghorn/Remsen-Union School District.

The solar project is expected to save the district between $700,000 over 25 years.

U.S. SENATOR JONI ERNST
Credit Blue Horizon Energy

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst attended the event and then visited a nearby hog farm also utilizing solar energy.

“Right now, Iowa consumes about 2% of its electric solar capacity as we see it broaden, it’s good to see it move into the right direction.”

U.S. SENATOR JONI ERNST AT MMCRU HIGH SCHOOL
Credit Blue Horizon Energy

Both projects at the school and hog farm were designed and installed by Blue Horizon Energy. 

The amount of water being released into the Missouri River from Gavins Point Dam on the Nebraska-South Dakota border is being decreased because less water is expected to flow into the river this year. That means the risk of a repeat of last year’s massive flooding along the river has been reduced. The reduction is possible because the region received less rain than expected this spring and the summer is expected to be drier than normal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated 31 million acre feet of water will flow down the river this year. That is roughly 1 million acre feet lower than the previous forecast.

Iowa’s executive branch has reported receiving 1.4 million donated surgical masks from corporations and a foreign government to help fight the coronavirus. Disclosure filings show the masks came from the Government of Taiwan and one of its U.S. offices, a Chinese auto parts conglomerate, a major apparel company and Iowa's largest health insurer. In all, Gov. Kim Reynolds accepted pandemic-related supplies with an estimated total value of $1.33 million as gifts to the state. The most valuable came from Hanesbrands, the North Carolina-based clothing company, which gave 1.2 million of its surgical procedure masks.Up to 1,300 coronavirus tests will be available for Sturgis residents following the annual motorcycle rally in August, which typically draws hundreds of thousands of riders to the city. The move is to protect local residents from contracting COVID-19 when the rally is held Aug. 7-16.

Besides regular testing for people with symptoms, the report says asymptomatic front-line residents would be able to be tested following the rally.