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NEWS 11.10.21

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Siouxland District Health
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In the past week, six more deaths have been added to the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in Woodbury County since the start of the Pandemic, for 254 in all. Statewide there have been 7,166 deaths.

After several weeks of falling positivity rates, the 14-day test positivity rate is up about 1% to a level of almost 12%.

Hospitalizations are up as well. There are 37 hospitalizations with almost half battling COVID-19 only in Sioux City. Last week there were 32.

The number of people 18 years and older vaccinated in Woodbury County is almost 64% about 4 percentage points off the state average of just over 68%.

Local health officials say the vaccine is still the best tool to prevent serious infections.

State public health officials say about 7-thousand Iowa kids ages 5 to 11 got their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday. Pfizer’s pediatric dose of the vaccine was approved last week, making more than 280-thousand Iowa kids eligible to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

A coalition of ten states, including all three Siouxland States, filed a lawsuit challenging a new rule by President Joe Biden's administration requiring millions of health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The suit filed Wednesday in Missouri federal court follows similar ones filed by Republican-led states against Biden's vaccine requirements for federal contractors and businesses with more than 100 employees.

Joining the lawsuit were the attorneys general of Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The State of Iowa has five state-run health care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding, including one in Cherokee in northwest Iowa.

Hospitals are fuller than at any point in the pandemic in Omaha amid a surge in COVID-19 cases that has health officials raising alarms. Nebraska had the nation’s fifth-highest percentage increase in COVID cases last week, part of a surge of infections occurring in the upper Great Plains.

With local hospitals brimming, cases rising and flu season coming, the Douglas County Health Director made an urgent appeal to people to get vaccinated, wear masks indoors, socially distance, and be aware and cautious in settings where there may be a lot of unvaccinated people.

A former employee of Morningside University is facing child pornography charges in Virginia, after an extensive investigation.

Forty-eight-year old Shiran Nathaniel, was arrested in Sioux City over the weekend on a warrant from Stafford County, Virginia according to CBS 14/Fox 44.

Nathaniel is facing several charges, including possession of child pornography.

The Stafford County Sheriff's Office in Virginia says an investigation started after the father of a 13-year-old girl contacted authorities with concerns about an online relationship his daughter had formed.

Investigators say Nathaniel groomed the girl online, getting her to send him sexually explicit photos and videos and to recruit other underage girls, through social media, to do the same.

The Stafford County Sheriff says a search conducted last month in Sioux City revealed Nathaniel had used his home and work computers for this purpose, with authorities seizing several computers and hard drives that were found to contain child porn.

Nathaniel is currently being held in the Woodbury Co. Jail, awaiting extradition to Virginia.

Morningside University sent a news release to Siouxland Public Media on November 1st saying effective immediately Nathanial no longer worked for the school.

The controversy surrounding a historic cemetery in Woodbury County is over with both sides

The mayor of Sergeant Bluff announced Tuesday afternoon the Woodbury Township Cemetery will stay put.

Brickworks had wanted to move all 1,200 gravesites from the cemetery founded in 1854.

The mayor says a new graveyard will be added northwest of the current site.

Brickworks says when exploring a potential relocation, the company found extra costs associated with moving the cemetery.

They would have to involve the state archaeologist in the moving process, for an increase of $2.5 million.

Brickworks plans to donate the land for the new cemetery to the city of Sergeant Bluff. The mayor says the new cemetery should be finished in two to three years.

The Catholic Diocese in Lincoln has declared a day of fasting for its priests in response to a report that identified hundreds of cases of church sex abuse in Nebraska since the 1930s. A message sent to Lincoln-area parishioners says Bishop James Conley proclaimed Friday as a day of fasting and abstinence “in reparation for offenses” highlighted in the report by the Nebraska Attorney General’s office. The message says priests were also to offer “three Masses for the healing of victims.” Attorney General Doug Peterson released the report last week, expressing frustration that no accused offenders in the church would face charges because the statute of limitations has passed in the vast majority of cases.

South Dakota lawmakers weighing impeachment of the state’s attorney general will start their investigation by hiring legal counsel to guide their probe. The House’s investigative committee met for the first time as they delve into Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s conduct surrounding a fatal car crash last year. The House’s investigation is expected to take months as they look into the crash investigation. During their first meeting, lawmakers reviewed state law on impeachment. But they held off on any further action until they could hire an attorney.

Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks says she will seek reelection in a new Iowa congressional district next year, avoiding a head-to-head run against Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne.

The two congresswomen were drawn into the same district through the once-a-decade redistricting process. The new electoral maps drawn up by the Republican-led Legislature and approved by the Republican governor moved Miller-Meeks’ home county of Wapello into the 3rd District and it renumbered her previous 2nd District as the 1st District. Miller-Meeks did not commit to moving into the new district, saying her physical location is less important than who she is serving.

Iowa now has more Latino and Hispanic elected officials now than ever before. That’s according to the Latino Political Network.

Officials says after last Tuesday’s elections, 13 new Latino leaders were elected into office. That brings the total estimated number of Latino and Hispanic elected officials to 27.

Sheila Brummer returns to her radio roots as a Reporter/Special Projects Producer for Siouxland Public Media KWIT-KOJI.