SPM News: English

The latest news in Siouxland, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

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. 

The Iowa Department of Public is updating the coronavirus.iowa.gov website so Iowans can keep up to date on vaccination rates, case positivity rates and hospitalizations.

This week on The Exchange, we focus on issues that affect Native Americans in Siouxland.

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%.

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

This summer, the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska held an outreach event for young people on the reservation. Part of this exploration included art.    

Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer paints the picture of this creative cultural history lesson.

“Can I start?”      


More than a dozen youngsters with brushes in hand help bring a mural to life, including 15-year-old Traylin Sheridan of Rosalie, Nebraska. She and others work to cover a wall once gilded with graffiti.



A petition drive condemning Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and lawmakers for passing a law banning mask mandates is gaining traction. Siouxland Public Media talked to the organizer, who says the safety of students and families is at risk.

“It started out with us just wanting to make a statement.”


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.


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.

The early 19th century camp site of the Lewis and Clark Expedition was artfully recreated last weekend as part of the annual Sergeant Floyd Memorial Encampment outside of the Sergeant Floyd River Museum. Floyd died in what is now Sioux City; the only man to die on the trip.

Siouxland Public Media’s Mary Hartnett visited the site of the recreated camp and spoke with the Corps of Discovery’s blacksmith.

This week on The Exchange, we hear both sides of a controversy over the use of American Recovercy Plan Act funds for the new Woodbury Count Law Enforcement Center in Sioux City. Some residents and labor leaders saycoronavirus money should go to help those hurt by the pandemic; not to cover the escalating costs of the LEC.  The Board of Supervisors says the higher costs have been caused by supply chain issues that were caused by the pandemic.  We hear comments from this week's supervisors' meeting. 

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.

School is back in session in Siouxland and across the country. Parents and kids are beginning their second year while dealing with the coronavirus.  The Sioux City Public School Foundation has endeavored to help students with keeping safe, learning in difficult times, providing band instruments and graduation gear. The foundation has three main pillers to its mission.  I talked with the foundation’s Mickey Nelson and Michael Rohlena about those pillars and how they are put into practice in the Sioux City public schools.

More than a dozen Woodbury County residents spoke out against using federal coronavirus money to build the new Law Enforcement Center at yesterday’s supervisor’s meeting. Siouxland Public Media’s Mary Hartnett has more.  

Members of the group United Today, Stronger Tomorrow argued against using more than 15 million dollars in American Recovery Plan Act money, meant to offset costs from the coronavirus pandemic, for the new Law Enforcement Center.  The UTST and labor leaders held a press conference and described their concerns last week. 

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.

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

The 24 Hours of Le Mans runs this weekend in France, August 21st to 22nd. One Siouxlander will keep close watch due to a deep history with the automobile endurance event.

Dr. Quentin Durward first developed a love for the sport as a child growing up in a land 8,000 miles away.

The neurosurgeon shared an essay with Siouxland Public Media about his journey through racing and cars to achieve his "American Dream".

* Dr. Durward took Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer for a spin in his 2020 Ford GT to record some of the sounds for this segment she produced.

  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. 

This week on The Exchange, we take a look at how international events and issues, like the US military pullout from Afghanistan and the resurgance of the coronavirus, are affecting Americans and Siouxland residents.

UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's

UnityPoint Health-St. Lukes’s recently appointed a new regional president and CEO. Lorenzo Suter started in his new role in Sioux City about a month ago after serving as a hospital administrator in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He takes over for Lynn Wold, who left in November after 18 years in the position.

He shares his philosophy on healthcare, inspiring history, and thoughts on the COVID-19 Pandemic with Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer.

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.


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.

Firefighters have contained a wildfire which burned southwest of Sturgis, as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally continues. The U.S. Forest Service says crews will continue to patrol and mop up following containment of the Kirk Hill fire. Smoke is expected for the next several days. The fire burned approximately 80 acres. No structures were lost in the fire and no evacuations were orderd at the

Courtesy of coronavirus.iowa.gov Edit | Remove

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