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A Polk County jury has found Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri not guilty of violating police orders during a racial justice protest last summer. Sahouri testified that she was pepper-sprayed and arrested at the protest near Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines, as she was trying to move away from police who were using tear gas to break up a crowd.

In his closing statement, defense attorney Nick Klinefeldt told the jury Sahouri was at the protest to cover it for the Register, not to break the law.

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Iowa’s new voting law faces a legal challenge.

Governor Kim Reynolds signed the Republican-backed bill into law yesterday (Monday). It shortened the time allowed for early, mail, and Election Day voting, and made many additional changes to Iowa’s election procedures.

The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa filed a lawsuit.

Attorneys argue the new law unconstitutionally burdens Iowans’ voting rights. 

In a statement yesterday, Reynolds said the new law will promote transparency and accountability in elections.

coronavirus.iowa.gov

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported three more deaths due to COVID-19 in Woodbury County for 214 in all since the start of the pandemic. Statewide there were 35 additional deaths reported in 24-hours and more than 550 new positive tests.

There are currently outbreaks at a dozen long-term care facilities in Iowa, with none in northwest Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Public Health today is launching  Vaccinate.Iowa.gov, a new website that provides information about vaccine priority populations and eligibility, resources available for Iowans age 65 and older, and answers to fre

Siouxland Public Media

Upper photo: Brady Hanson Lower left: Pam Bailey Lower right: Cheryl Singleton Edit | Remove

The “The Takeaway” on February 24, 2021 featured a reflective moment surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic and included community leader, Ike Rayford of the Sioux City Chapter of the NAACP. Rayford talked about the loss of three friends in 2020 and then shared a more in-depth look at the lives of Brady Hanson, Pam Bailey, and Cheryl Singleton with Siouxland Public Media.

IDPH

The state of Iowa plans to launch a new website tomorrow to provide more information on how to get COVID-19 vaccines.

However, the Governor stressed during a news conference today Iowans will not be able to schedule an appointment on the site www.vaccinate.iowa.gov.

The state also plans to reach out to older Iowans in need of finding a vaccine. Starting on March 8 they will open a 211-call center to answer questions and help with scheduling.

This week on The Exchange, we speak with the author of a new book who tells of his first-hand experience in the oil fields in the boom town of Williston, North Dakota.  Michael Patrick  says his book looks at people who are often surviving financially from week to week. 

We also talk about one of the country’s first carbon capture and storage projects that is associated with an ethanol plant in Marcus, Iowa.  Bruce Rastetter is the CEO of Summit. He says the partnership is a giant step forward for the biofuels industry.

Associated Press

South Dakota House lawmakers have begun impeachment proceedings against the state’s attorney general, who is facing misdemeanor charges for striking and killing a man with his car. Republican lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a resolution in the House to impeach Jason Ravnsborg, the state’s top law enforcement officer. He has indicated he will not heed calls to resign. The Republican attorney general faces three misdemeanor charges in the September death of 55-year-old Joseph Boever. It will require a simple majority to advance the impeachment charges to the Senate.

Sioux City Police Department

The Sioux City Police Department released preliminary crime statistics that show a 26% overall increase in violent crime from the year before. A news release from Police Chief Rex Mueller did show property crimes fell by 15%. He says while the COVID-19 pandemic likely impacted local crime numbers, officials can’t give specifics to why violent crime is up.

Woodbury County Democratic Party

On Monday night the Woodbury County Democratic Party is holding an event to address what they call voter suppression by Republicans in the Iowa Legislature.

“These are potential laws based on Donald Trump’s lie about the last election in 2020,” said Jeremy Dumkrieger, Democratic Party Chair for Woodbury County.

Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate are fast-tracking a bill to shorten the early voting period in Iowa from 29 to 18 days. Plus, county election officials would be banned from sending absentee ballot applications to voters.

City of Sioux City

South Dakota lawmakers are considering impeaching the state's attorney general as he faces misdemeanor charges for striking and killing a man with his car.

Jason Ravnsborg, the state's top law enforcement officer, has said he will not step down before he gets a hearing in front of a judge.

Prosecutors have charged the Republican attorney general with three misdemeanors but no felonies in the September death of 55-year-old Joseph Boever. Republican Rep. Tim Goodwin says Ravnsborg should resign and that lawmakers are considering impeachment if he doesn't.

Associated Press

South Dakota’s attorney general has been charged with three misdemeanors including careless driving after he hit and killed a man with his car. Jason Ravnsborg, a native of Cherokee, Iowa was charged today. Ravnsborg initially told authorities he thought he had struck a deer while driving home from a Republican fundraiser on September 12. Ravnsborg has said he didn’t know he struck a man until he returned to the scene and found the body the next day. The man’s relatives have questioned Ravnsborg’s account.

Sioux City Community Schools

Yesterday on Siouxland Public Media you heard from Sioux City School Board Member Dan Greenwell. Greenwell attended a finance committee meeting this week where the school district outlined how it plans to spend COVID-19 CARES Act money. Greenwell expressed concern the district was spending a majority of the millions of dollars awarded toward virtual schooling. Today, we wanted to hear from the superintendent of the school district. Here is Dr. Paul Gausman.

Iowa PBS

The Iowa Department of Health recorded 43 more deaths due to complications of COVID-19, including two more in Woodbury County. The state also added more than 600  new cases. The number of hospitalizations at Sioux City’s two medical facilities has doubled in a day to a dozen patients. However, that number is less than 10% of the record high of 108 set back on December 1st.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has announced the state will not move forward with plans to contract with Microsoft to build a centralized COVID-19 vaccine registration system.

One member of the Sioux City Community School Board says he is concerned about how the school district wants to spend CARES Act Money.

Dan Greenwell says there is too much emphasis put on virtual schooling.

The Sioux City Community School District was awarded more than $20 million in federal emergency relief money due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, the district unveiled a draft budget to the district’s finance committee. Greenwell is part of that group .

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

A second day of Arctic temperatures across Middle America have prompted rolling power outages Tuesday morning in Nebraska and a call for energy conservation in Iowa. Residents in Nebraska experiences some of the coldest weather they've seen early Tuesday, putting a strain on the power grid that saw the state's power utilities implementing rolling outages. Nebraska’s largest utilities — the Omaha and Nebraska Public Power Districts — said the planned power outages were over by midmorning and they were working to restore power to all customers.

National Weather Service

Siouxland is under a Wind Chill Warning until Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. The National Weather Service says expect dangerously cold wind chills of up to 40-below overnight.

Last night’s weather set records across the region. Sioux City did as well, with a low temperature of -28.

Nebraska also saw a number of low-temperature records broken and expected more to fall Tuesday — as a polar vortex pushed Arctic air into the Plains. Temperatures are expected to be below normal for almost a week.

This week on The Exchange we talk about what it is like to poor in America with the author of a new book called "Broke in America: Seeing, Understanding and Ending US Poverty."   The authors Joanne Samuel Goldblum and Colleen Shaddux say the coronavirus pandemic has plunged millions more Americans to the brink of poverty, but the underlying causes of poverty have been ingrained in society, so that should be no surprise.  I talked with co-auhtor Joanne Samuel Goldblum about poverty, its causes and what the government and each us can do to allieviate those who are living in poverty.

State officials will reduce next week’s share of Covid vaccine doses for a handful of Iowa counties that have lagged behind in getting the shots administered, according to Radio Iowa. Doses are being distributed, based on population. Iowa Department of Public Health acting director Kelly Garcia said the goal is for counties to get at least 80% of weekly doses out the door — and five counties are below that threshold. Garcia made her comments during a telephone town hall with AARP members. She did not name the five counties.

Iowa Department of Public Health

Siouxland Public Media provided extensive coverage of COVID-19 during 2020, including news stories, call-in shows, and special media projects. The station also lauched newscasts in five different langauges (Amharic, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese) to keep more members of the community informed during the pandemic. 

Today the state of Iowa is reporting another 22 COVID-19 deaths and an additional 841 confirmed cases, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

At 10 a.m. today, the state was reporting 5,196 COVID-19-related deaths, according to the state's website. In Woodbury County, there have been 21 new cases added to the total case count in the last 24 hours and no further deaths. The 14-day positivity rate is 6.9%.

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Iowa reported another 35 COVID-19 deaths and an additional 713 confirmed cases today as the number of counties with a high 14-day positivity rate continued to decrease.

At 10 a.m. today, the state was reporting 5,145 COVID-19-related deaths, according to the state's coronavirus.iowa.gov website.  In Woodbury County, there have been 18 new cases added to the total case count in the last 24 hours and no new deaths. 

 

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An Iowa House subcommittee has approved a one-time appropriation of 30 million dollars for schools that have been in-person during the pandemic. Any district that allowed at least 50 percent of students to attend in-person could qualify for payments, but the schools that offered the most days of all in-person learning would receive the largest share of funding. Supporters say it would help cover the cost of mitigating COVID-19 in the classroom. 

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State health officials reported 804 new positive cases in Iowa between 10 a.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Friday, according the coronavirus.iowa.gov website.  There has also been another 44 COVID-19 deaths in Iowa in the last 24 hours, bringing the state's death toll to 5,067.  Iowa's 14-day positivity rate decreased to 9.3% to 9.1% since Thursday.

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Today, the Iowa Department of Public Health was reporting another 34 COVID-19 deaths and an additional 804 confirmed cases in the state.

At 10 a.m. today, the state reported 5,067 COVID-19-related deaths, an increase of 34 since yesterday. 

Woodbury County has marked another grim milestone, surpassing 200 COVID-19-related deaths. Today, Siouxland District Health says 201 residents have died from the coronavirus in the county. IDPH data show there have been more than 13, 3oo cases of covid-19 as well. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds says state officials are looking into why Iowa has one of the lowest vaccination rates per capita in the country. Iowa is moving into vaccinating those in phase 1-b, but it ranks near the bottom in the country for the number of first doses administered and its vaccine allocation.

Gov. Kim Reynolds says state officials are reaching out to counties and health providers to determine what's slowing down the vaccination process.

 

U.S. Senate

Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack facing questions today by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Vilsack who served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture during the Obama Administration is also the President Biden’s choice for the position.

This morning, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst asked Vilsack his position on biofuels in light of President Biden’s excelleration toward electric vehicles.

Vilsack says there is room for both.

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