NEWS 8.24.21: Heat Advisory, C19 Updates, LEC Concerns, and More

Aug 24, 2021

Credit National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

Parts of Siouxland are under a heat advisory until six tonight. The heat index will climb easily into the triple digits. According to the National Weather Service, there is a chance for severe storms with hail and high wind. Plus, areas south of Yankton to Spencer will have an elevated risk for a brief tornado.

Due to the heat, Hunt Elementary school will have an early dismissal. While a new school is being built, students are attending class in the old Crescent Park building. It is the only non-air conditioned school in the district.

The spread of COVID-19 is continuing to ramp up in Iowa.

Iowa Capital Dispatch reported almost 2,200 cases on Saturday.

The county with the lowest vaccination, Davis County, in south-central Iowa, has the highest number per capita of new infections during the past week.

Davis County has a vaccination rate of 31%. Sioux County 35%. Woodbury County 45%.

Iowa’s seven-day average of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 is also climbing and stands at 491, a 54% increase over the past two weeks, according to New York Times’ data.

Hospitalizations in the state are at the same level now as they were in late January.

Woodbury County’s 7-day test positivity rate is 6%, with 98 cases in one week. Tomorrow, Siouxland District Health releases a weekly report on hospitalizations at Sioux City’s two major medical facilities.

Crawford County saw a 50% increase in cases in the past 14 days.

The Dakota County Health Department says the 14-day test positivity rate is more than 9.5%, with 82 new cases in that timeframe.

Credit Dakota County Health Department

The Santee Sioux School District in Niobrara will be doing virtual learning until next Monday. The district’s website says they are going virtual as a proactive measure due to the potential of a COVID-19 outbreak following potential super spreader events. Students are expected to return to a regular schedule on Tuesday, August 31st.  Knox County is experiencing high community spread of the novel coronavirus.

Nebraska appears relatively safe on some national websites tracking the spread of COVID-19, but state health officials say those maps aren’t accurate. The problem is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been using different data for Nebraska since the state retired its website that reported virus figures daily. Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Olga Dack said the CDC used to rely on the state's daily dashboard for its data. But Dack said officials recently discovered that the federal agency has been using the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests for Nebraska counties instead of the per capita case counts it uses for most other states.

South Dakota House lawmakers are trying to pressure Gov. Kristi Noem to call a special session to pass a ban on employers requiring COVID-19 vaccinations even as virus cases climb. Several Republicans in the House of Representatives have circulated drafts of bills that would stop employers from mandating vaccinations against the virus. They are trying to pressure Noem to call a special session for them to approve the bills. But she has resisted those calls, saying there is not widespread support for a special session. Meanwhile, cases of the virus have resurged to their highest levels since February. 

Local labor leaders say Woodbury County is inappropriately using federal coronavirus funds to pay for the increasing construction costs of the new Law Enforcement Center. The group United Today, Stronger Tomorrow will make its case at a public meeting during the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors meeting this afternoon.

Ernie Colt of the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters says county residents should not have pay more than the 50-million dollar bond referendum approved last year.  He says the county should just redesign the LEC.  

“Maybe not four courtrooms, maybe not four hundred cells, maybe 300 cells, you know there’s some different things that they can do to bring the costs down."

Colt also says the contractor may not be paying wages required by federal law. However, the chair of the LEC committee Ron Wieck says Hausman Construction is following all appropriate wage laws for American Recovery Plan Act funds.  

The county supervisors meet at 4:30 this afternoon at the courthouse.

Supervisor Matthew Ung sent out this Tweet prior to today’s meeting:

Credit TWITTER

An American athlete who will be in Sioux City next month was one of two who carried the U.S. flag during the opening ceremony for the Paralympic Games in Toyoko, according to the Sioux City Journal.

Melissa Stockwell, who competes in the triathlon, lost her left leg above the knee in Iraq. A roadside bomb hit her Humvee as she was leading a convoy in Baghdad. Stockwell received both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart and a bronze medal in the 2016 games. She will be the keynote speaker at the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce dinner on September 30th.

Big 10 officials announced this week if a team can’t play due to COVID-19, they will be forced to take the game as a loss. The other team will receive a win. However, if both teams can’t play, the game will be considered no contest.