News 9.16.20: IA Gov. Addresses C-19 Issues, Recovery Fund, Le Mars Police Officer Fired and More

Sep 16, 2020

IA GOVERNOR KIM REYNOLDS

The White House Coronavirus task force is again recommending Iowa establish a statewide mask mandate.

The White House task force says Iowa should establish a statewide mask mandate, and notes that COVID-19 is being brought into nursing homes through community transmission.

Last week’s White House report said masks should be required in Iowa metro areas and places where schools have coronavirus cases.

Governor Kim Reynolds has repeatedly dismissed calls for a statewide mask mandate. She hasn’t allowed local governments to enforce their own, though some have issued mask requirements.

Iowa is still in the “red zone” for new cases, but has dropped to the “yellow zone” for its positivity rate.

Governor Kim Reynolds says young adults are the big drivers for new COVID-19 infections in the state of Iowa, especially in Johnson and Story county the homes of the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.  They are the spots where bars will still remain closed at restrictions are eased in four other counties today.

Reynolds says her most recent public health proclamation clarifies social distancing requirements for bars.   And the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Division will be able to more swiftly punish bars that do not follow requirements.

We can continue to educate, we can give them a warning. And if they don't do what they're supposed to do, then we'll take the next steps, which is fine and to shut them down.

Reynolds says cases are going down in the locations with the bar closures.

A majority of the media gathering centered around the Des Moines School District.

The Governor says district is no closer to coming up with a plan to be in compliant with state requirements. 

Last night, the school board voted to prepare for a hybrid-learning model.  The district has used virtual learning for students since the delayed start of their school year on September 8th.

As long as Des Moines schools are in virtual learning without state approval, the days don’t count toward the academic calendar.

Gov. Kim Reynolds says there is nothing inappropriate about her decision to spend nearly $450,000 in federal coronavirus relief money on salaries for aides in her office, including her chief of staff and spokesman.

Reynolds responded at a press conference for the first time about a report posted Sunday by the online blog Bleeding Heartland.

The report indicated 21 employees on Reynolds’ staff will have more than 60% of their salary paid by the federal emergency funds from March 14 through June 30.

Reynolds says federal rules clearly allow salaries to be paid for workers whose job requirements are significantly changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Iowa Department of Public Health shows one more person died due to complications of COVID-19 and 775 more tested positive for the virus during a 24-hour period.

More than 76,000 have tested positive and 1,234 deaths.

Positivity rates of new cases continue to rise in northwest Iowa counties.  Sioux County had the highest rate in the state on Wednesday morning with 26.5% over the past 14 days.  That’s up almost 3 percentage points since yesterday.  Lyon is up two with just over 20% and O’Brien and Plymouth are at more than 15%.

They are the top four counties in the state for positivity rates for new infections. Fifteen percent is the threshold set by the governor to help determine an outbreak in a school district. 

Meanwhile, Plymouth county is the site of the regions only outbreaks at long-term care facilities.

There are 8 positive cases at the Akron Care Center and 15 at Kingsley Specialty Care.

New cases of COVID-19 continue to increase slightly in Woodbury County.  Siouxland District Health reported 54 more in a 24-hour period for 4,646 in all.  There have been 59 deaths since the start of the pandemic.  The rate of new cases has gone up by about a dozen each day since Monday.

Dakota County Health officials report two new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 2082 new cases and 43 deaths.

Nebraska reports 328 new cases and one death.  There have been almost 39,000 total cases and 436 deaths.

A police officer from Le Mars was fired by the city after an investigation found he engaged in misconduct surrounding social media activity. 

JEREMY SINGER
Credit City of Le Mars, IA

According to a statement released by the police chief to the LeMars Daily Sentinel, Jeremy Singer was dismissed yesterday surrounding posts discovered the day before.

The department says the city took the matter seriously and actions and comments made by Officer Singer are not representative of the values in place to ensure there is trust between police and the community.

Singer had been on the force for three years.

The Siouxland Recovery Fund announced awards of more than $535,000 for several local non-profit organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Way facilitated the Siouxland Recovery Fund launched in March.  Private donations were received to help provide food, mental health and translation services, financial support and more.

The Food Bank of Siouxland and Salvation Army received $50,000.  Getting awards of $25,000 were Camp High Hopes, Girls Inc., the Mary J. Community House, Norm Waitt YMCA and Rosecrance Jackson Centers. 

Almost $29,000 will go to the Boys and Girls Club to help with two programs and Sioux City Community Assistance died get more than $34,000 for “Fresh Start Home Kits”.  Smaller amounts were given to more than 25 other organizations.

Big Ten is going to give fall football a shot after all. Less than five weeks after the conference announced it would push football and other fall sports to spring because of the pandemic, the conference changed course. The Big Ten plans to begin its season the weekend of Oct. 24 with an eight-game schedule for each team. The Big Ten says its Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to restart sports. Back in August, the conference voted to postpone fall sports.