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The number of Iowans hospitalized for COVID-19 in Iowa remains above 500, and one expert says it’s straining the state’s hospital system.

Theresa Brennan of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics says the hospital’s ICU is currently dealing with an influx of COVID patients. That’s on top of dealing with a higher than average number of non-COVID patients. Brennan says UIHC is receiving requests for transfers from hospitals across the state -- and country. She says hospitals are facing staff shortages as some are missing work after testing positive for COVID and others are leaving the field from mental burnout.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported Wednesday 11,588 new positive cases in the past seven days.

The number of new COVID-19 infections remains on the rise in Iowa as state health officials are reporting more than 11 thousand new cases have been confirmed in the past week. Nearly 30 percent of the new cases are reported to be in children 17 and under.The state is reporting 578 Iowans are currently hospitalized with the virus. That’s the same number as last week. And 78 percent of those hospitalized are not fully vaccinated. About 87% of ICU patients are not fully vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 62 percent of Iowans 12 and older are fully vaccinated. And all 99 of Iowa’s counties have high levels of community spread.

Sioux City Community Schools

The Sioux City Community Schools District’s new virtual learning academy the “Vibe Academy” uses the slogan “Learning Without Limits”. However, one local advocate says some students with disabilities are left out of equation. 

During Wednesday's special school board meeting surrounding masks in the Sioux City Community School District, some citizens talked about a virtual option for parents to send their children. However, as Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer reports that option is not available to all.

Sioux City Community Schools

The Sioux City Community School District will not bring back a mask mandate after an emergency session on Wednesday, September 15.  Siouxland Public’s Sheila Brummer reports.

Even from the start, contention filled the air of the Sioux City Community School District’s headquarters Wednesday afternoon for a special board meeting, mainly from those who did not want their children to wear masks in school.

More than 20 concerned citizens on both sides of the issue shared their viewpoint by phone and in person.

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

No mask mandate for the Sioux City Community School District after the board did not have a consensus of support to hold a vote. Concerns were raised about disrespect from citizens who attended today's meeting

Prior to the meeting, the local teacher’s union president said there wasn’t time to meet with members to issue a stance on masks. Lesa Banks says there are educators on both sides of the debate. The state teachers' union hopes school leaders will focus on science and decide what to do next. 

https://isea.org

Just hours after a federal judge blocked Iowa’s law banning mask mandates, the Sioux City Community School Board agreed vote on the issue. It will take place tomorrow at 3 p.m., instead of noon.

Board vice-president Monique Scarlett put forth the motion, saying the mask mandate could help stop the spread of the very contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

School Superintendent Paul Gausman agreed that it was time to bring back face coverings, but some students and staff are likely to be exempt for health reasons.

CDC

A federal judge has ordered the state of Iowa to immediately halt enforcement of a law passed in May that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Judge Robert Pratt said in an order signed Monday that the law substantially increases the risk of several children with health conditions of contracting COVID-19. Several parents with children that have various medical conditions sued the state.

Sioux City Community Schools

The Sioux City School Board is expected to discuss COVID-19 relief money spending at tonight’s meeting.

The district received a third round of federal funding of almost $39 million. A new budget proposal calls for spending more money to help students who have fallen behind, from 20 to 40%.

Board Member Dan Greenwell says he is worried about the implementation of the plan. 

“Talk is cheap, action much more subtenant in my book. I want to make sure we have action and not just talk.”

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Covid 19 cases and vaccinations are slowly rising in Woodbury County. As of facebook posting on Wednesday, Siouxland District Health said for the week beginning August 30th, there were 287 new cases of COVID-19 in Woodbury County, and a positivity rate of 13.2 percent. There were 17 people hospitalized in Siouxland due to covid 19 and the vaccination rate is at 43.4 percent. 

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The US Department of the Treasury will meet with Woodbury County residents online on Monday, Sept. 13, to discuss how federal funding guidelines could impact the proposed use of federal coronavirus funds. Some Woodbury County residents say they want to highlight possible issues with how the Board of Supervisors allocates funding to leadership in the Office of Recovery Programs.That’s after receiving over 250 letters from local residents about funding related to the American Recovery Program.  Several of them registered their concerns with how the money is being used to build the new law enforcement center. Many have also spoken out at both Sioux City Council and Woodbury County Supervisor meetings. Reaffirmed spending guidelines are expected to come out of the US Treasury as early as next week. Residents say they are concerned that these funds should be spent on projects and programs more closely connected to the Covid pandemic. There are also concerns that county residents will have to pay back the federal funds if the funds are misused. 

Sioux City has been awarded for its response to housing needs during the coronavirus. The City of Sioux City Neighborhood Services Division has been selected as the 2021 COVID-19 Housing Response award winner by the Iowa Finance Authority.  Staff were presented with the award today at the Housing Iowa Conference in Cedar Rapids.  

The  City was awarded for the new Neighborhood Services Division Outreach Office, as well as the emergency shelter program which provided temporary housing in hotels to those experiencing homelessness. The award recognizes "an initiative that was implemented in immediate response to needs created due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 Developers will be able to build 36,450 new housing units to help address Iowa's growing shortage. That's because Iowa is allocating $100 million of its federal coronavirus relief funding to build new homes in the state.  Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that today at the housing conference. The money comes from The American Rescue Plan Act funding. That is being added to more than 230 million dollars the Iowa Legislature allocated over five years to Iowa's tax credit programs.The 100 million dollars will be split among several existing programs, plus a new pilot program to improve housing access for minority groups. 

Former President Donald Trump will hold a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Oct. 9, a source familiar with his plans confirmed to the Des Moines Register. In an August radio interview, Trump said that he planned to return to Iowa for a rally, but he did not announce any further details at the time.

The former president's return to the first-in-the-nation caucus state is likely to stoke speculation about whether he'll again seek the White House in 2024. Trump has left the door open to another campaign.

His potential Republican rivals aren't waiting for Trump to announce his intentions. Many possible presidential contenders have already begun visiting Iowa to hold fundraisers for local candidates and attend party dinners.

Des Moines Register/Mediacom, Iowa Poll in June showed Iowans were evenly split on Trump, with 49% saying they had a favorable view of him and 49% saying they had an unfavorable view.

A pilot and his passenger emerged unharmed after their small plane crashed Monday near Kingsley. The Plymouth County Sheriff' says the crash happened at about 3:12 p.m., approximately five miles east of Kingsley and near Plymouth County Road C-66 and Tamarack Avenue. The plane was upside down inside a cornfield. The pilot and passenger were the only two people on board. Their names have not been released.

The crash site has been secured pending an FAA investigation. South Dakota's governor says the national guard troops deployed to the border with Mexico will be on the way home later this month. Kristi Noem thanked the guard member in a Facebook post.  The guard troops encountered more than 6,00 individuals crossing the border.

The ACLU of Iowa and disability rights groups are suing state officials in federal court to overturn a statewide ban on school mask mandates.

ACLU attorney Susan Mizner  says many disabled students have chronic conditions that make the coronavirus a severe health threat. But she says they still have the right to learn in-person, and to ask classmates to wear masks as the CDC recommends.

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The surge in coronavirus cases in Iowa and an increasing number of critically ill patients  has raised concerns about having enough beds, and health care providers. While Iowa’s hospitals are not as full as they were this past fall, the latest spike has officials worried. On Wednesday, UIHC reported 41 COVID-19 admissions, including 36 adult patients and five pediatric patients.

State officials say they’ll start updating Iowa’s coronavirus data website three times a week, instead of once a week.

The Iowa Department of Public Health changed from daily to weekly reporting in early July, and officials say the move followed other states in the region and the CDC’s data reporting at the time. 

Director Kelly Garcia says the situation has “evolved,” and she’s hearing that Iowans want to know more. 

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts today said the state is working to manage hospital staffing issues, including again setting up a transfer center so that patients could be moved based on hospital availability, according to WOW TV. 

Last week, the governor declared a staffing emergency for Nebraska hospitals.  Nebraska officials said the state was partnering with Nomi Health to help patients in need of a transfer to a hospital in the state. That service is expected to be operational on Saturday. 

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The Iowa Department of Public Health today announced new COVID-19 Data for the past week. IDPH reported 8,907 additional positive COVID-19 tests, for a total of 441,889 positive tests since the start of the pandemic. 

The health department reported 39 additional COVID-19 deaths, totaling 6,307 since the pandemic began. 

The state’s 14-day positivity rate is up from 8.2% to 8.6% in the last 7 days, and the 7-day rate is up from 8.3% to 8.6%.

CDC

The number of COVID-19 cases in Nebraska has increased in each of the past ten weeks, and the total nearly doubled over the past two weeks as the highly contagious delta variant of the virus continues to spread.

Nebraska reported around 5,000 new cases last week to the CDC.

That’s up from the previous week and nearly double the cases recorded the week before.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has risen over the past two weeks from 190 new cases per day on Aug. 15 to more than 715 new cases per day on Sunday.

CDC

The Education Department says it’s investigating five Republican-led states that have banned mask requirements in schools, saying the policies could amount to discrimination against students with disabilities or health conditions. The department’s office for civil rights sent letters to education chiefs in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Those states have barred schools from requiring masks among students and staff, a move that the department says could prevent some students from safely attending school.

Associated Press

Public health officials in Iowa’s largest county are sounding alarms that too few people are wearing masks and getting vaccinated as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations climb in the state to levels not seen since January. The surge of the delta variant of COVID-19 comes as schools go back into session banned from requiring masks by a Republican legislature and governor. The Iowa Department of Public Health in its weekly update Wednesday added 42 deaths, bringing the state total to 6,268 deaths. The state reported 7,619 positive tests in the past seven days.

2017 Dan Moore Campaign

Sioux City Mayor Pro Tempore Dan Moore tells Siouxland Public Media he filled his nomination petition for city council today.

Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill says if more than six people file for three open seats, there will be a primary on October 5th, otherwise a combined city/school election will take place countywide on November 2nd.

Pete Groetken says he will not seek a third term on the city council. Alex Waters seat is also up for reelection. He told Siouxland Public Media he plans to run for reelection.

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.

Courtesy of woodburycounty.gov Edit | Remove

Every person in Iowa, vaccinated or not, should wear a mask when in public indoor spaces because of the level of spread of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  Iowa’s COVID-19 cases have increased steadily since late June, with the state adding 1,992 cases in a single day this week, according to New York Times data. That total, on Wednesday, was the highest the state has recorded since 2,478 cases on Jan. 6, as reported by Iowa Capital Dispatch. Daily gains were much more significant at other points in the pandemic. For example, in November, some days topped 4,000 cases.

Iowa Democrats are calling on Republican Governor Kim Reynolds to allow schools to follow CDC guidelines and require students and teachers to wear masks. Reynolds signed a new law in May that prohibits mask mandates in schools.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst of Windsor Heights cautions against districts defying that law. She pointed to bills in the last legislative session that targeted Des Moines schools for violating state guidelines.

Siouxland is reporting lower positivity and hospitalization rates this week due to COVID 19. Yesterday, Siouxland District Health reported the positivity rate is almost 7%, with only three hospitalizations due to COVID only at Sioux City Hospitals.

However, the number of people vaccinated increased by about point-six (.6) percent. South Dakota is again seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and 43% more hospitalizations. Almost 400 more South Dakotans have tested positive for COVID-19, with one more death recorded. 

Siouxland District Health

In a weekly update, Siouxland District Health reported lower COVID-19 positivity rates and hospitalizations in Woodbury County. The positivity rate is almost 7% with only three hospitalizations due to COVID only.

However, the number of people vaccinated rose by point-six (0.6) percent.

Deputy Director Tyler Brock says .6% is actually a decent increase for one week for the number of people finishing their two-dose series. One week ago, local officials urged anyone age 12 and older to get their shot.

CDC

Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in Nebraska as the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread, but those reported totals may be undercounting the actual number of cases because the number of tests being performed each day is down significantly compared to last fall.

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