local news

UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's

The number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise in Iowa and Siouxland. Siouxland Public Media reached out to one of the local experts, Dr. Michael Kafka, he Medical Director for Quality and Patient Safety at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s in Sioux City to hear his take on this increase, delta variant, vaccine rates, masks, and more.

As of late last week, Kafka says Sioux City’s two major medical facilities are treating patients in the single digits.

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

Democrat Deirde DeJear formed an exploratory committee in a potential quest to run for Iowa Governor in 2022.

The activist and small business owner, who ran for Secretary of State in 2020, told the Des Moines register she is analyzing the political and fundraising landscape to ensure a true path to victory. Part of that exploration took her to Sioux City on August 4, 2021, where she met with a small group of local leaders and activists at Western Iowa Tech Community College.

Education leaders in South Dakota say that as the new school year approaches the state doesn’t have enough teachers and support staff, a situation they attribute to the coronavirus pandemic.

The State Education Secretary says every school district in South Dakota is dealing with staffing shortages with several teachers deciding to retire earlier than planned due to COVID-19.

Andrew Dutler/Sioux City Police Department

Training is extremely important for police officers and deputies. This week a special program provides high-level lessons to some four-legged law enforcers as well. Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer shares details and sounds of this intense instruction.

Local businessman Ryan Callaghan of RP Constructors helped cover the $20,000 pricetag for the training. 

The training sessions for the dogs and officers continue through tomorrow.

* Special thanks Sioux City Police Officer Andrew Dutler for recording the dogs in action.

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

Youngsters from the Omaha Tribe are learning lessons surrounding their history and culture this week. Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer traveled to Macy, Nebraska for this first of its kind event.

tysonfoods.com

Tyson Foods is requiring all employees in the United States to e vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to a news release, all employees who work in an office setting must be fully vaccinated by October 1 and the rest of the workforce by November 1.

Tyson says the move is to help keep infection rates low. They say about half of their employees have already received their shots. Exceptions to the vaccination mandate will be made for people who need special medical or religious accommodations.

The City Hall and Community Center in Sergeant Bluff are closed this week due to COVID-19. In a statement sent to Siouxland Public Media, the city clerk says an “unusually large number” of staff members were exposed to COVID-19. So, they decided to close City Hall and the Community Center to protect the public. They hope to have all facilities open by the weekend.

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

A Siouxland Sheriff’s office is mourning the death of one of its own.

The Burt County Sheriff says Deputy Justin Smith passed away yesterday after a battle with COVID-19.

Deputy Smith has been a member of the Burt County Sheriff's Office and since 2008. He also served as the Police Chief of Decatur, Nebraska. 

The Burt County Board of Supervisors has requested that all flags in the county be lowered to half-staff.

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory today for the entire state of Iowa, most of South Dakota and a large portion of Nebraska.

The heat advisory is in effect until 9 p.m. for Siouxland with a heat index near 110.

Governors from all three Siouxland States slam the CDC’s announcement on Tuesday urging both vaccinated and nonvaccinated people to wear masks due to a surge of cases of COVID-19.

The CDC also advises children in schools wear masks this fall.

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

Dave Muhlbauer, a former Crawford County Supervisor and farmer from Manning/Manilla is also running as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Chuck Grassley. Maulbauer was in Sioux City this week and stopped by the Siouxland Public Media studios for an interview with Sheila Brummer.

Last week former Iowa Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer announced plans to run for Republican Chuck Grassley’s U.S. Senate seat in 2022.

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds called new revised guidance from the CDC surrounding wearing masks “not grounded in reality or common sense.”

Reynolds issued a statement shortly after the CDC recommended fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas of the country where the virus is circulating widely.

She still encouraged people to get vaccinated, but went on to say she’s concerned the guidance will be used as a vehicle to mandate masks in states and schools, something she does not support.  

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the summer of 2015.

Author Sasha Issenberg explored the topic for his new book “The Engagement: America’s Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage”. 

Issenberg is long-time journalist who worked for many publications including the Boston Globe, Bloomberg Politics, New York Magazine, and more. He is currently the Washington correspondent for Monocle. 

Abby Finkenauer/Facebook

Iowa Democrat Abby Finkenauer is running for Republican Chuck Grassley’s U.S. Senate seat. The one-term former congresswoman hopes her blue-collar credentials will propel her forward in a state that has grown more conservative over the years.

The 32-year-old offers a stark contrast to the 87-year-old Grassley, who was elected to his first Senate term eight years before Finkenauer was born.

Siouxland District Health

Local health officials are making a push for more people 12-years and older to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Siouxland District Health says cases are going up around the country, especially in areas with lower vaccination rates. A post on social media says the vaccine is free and easily available in Siouxland. People can call their local health departments, pharmacies, or doctors to set up an appointment.

Meanwhile, UnityPoint Health in Des Moines reports 95% to 99% of their COVID-19 patients are not vaccinated.

Facebook

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announces the state finished the last fiscal year with an $86 million surplus. The Republican governor says tax revenue hit a 30-year high and finished $62 million over what was estimated. The state also spent about $24 million less than what was budgeted for the fiscal year that ended on June 30. Noem credits the state’s “respect for freedom and our continued emphasis on fiscal responsibility” for the financial windfall. Federal coronavirus relief funds sent both to taxpayers and state government also fueled the surplus.

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

Parts of Siouxland under a tornado watch until 9 tonight, including Woodbury, Monona, Ida, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Clay, Emmet, and Pocahontas.

The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for several counties across central Iowa, including Calhoun and Carroll just outside of Siouxland.

A judge has agreed to delay the sentencing of the man convicted of killing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts after his lawyers said they need time to investigate new information implicating other people.

Siouxland Public Media

Governors from all three Siouxland States spent the day at the Tri-State Governors’ Conference. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem met at the Marriot Riverfront in South Sioux City.

The event hosted by the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce focused on shortage of workers in the region and addressed the impact of COVID-19.

Governor Reynolds was then scheduled to tour the Arena Sports Academy in Sioux City.

FBI

The FBI says Nebraska and Iowa have seen a rise in hate crimes in recent years, most of which have been committed on the basis of race and ethnicity.

The special agent in charge at the FBI's Omaha field office says Nebraska and Iowa have seen a 21% increase in the reporting of hate crimes in recent years.

Federal officials define a hate crime as a criminal offense, such as assault or arson, with an added element of bias against the intended target's race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender or gender identity.

CDC

A top doctor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center warns about a new surge of COVID-19 cases with younger people.

The state recorded more than 450 cases last week, an increase of 55% from the week before.

Dr. James Lawler says the increase isn’t a surprise given the presence of the highly contagious delta variant and the number of unvaccinated people in the state.

He also told an Omaha TV station the summer could get “ugly” for people in the 20-to-50 year age group.

He predicted the worst part of the pandemic is coming for this younger demographic.

July 2, 2021
Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

Thousands of people gathered at Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa on July 2-3, 2021 to watch more than 20 artists on two different stages after a year off due to COVID-19.

Saturday in the Park brought a chance for performers to finally play in front of a live audience after the intensity of the pandemic.

Veterans and new fans alike enjoyed fun under a warm sun with diverse music, unity, and solidarity.

National Weather Service/Sioux Falls

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for a large portion of Siouxland until eight tonight.

Officials in the weather service in Sioux Falls say similar to yesterday, hot and humid conditions will be occurring this afternoon across the region. Heat index values will range from 95 to 105 degrees in most areas. They advise people drink plenty of water and stay out of the sun if possible.

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

The Mardi Gras Parade kicked off Saturday in the Park festivities in downtown Sioux city last night. SPM's Sheila Brummer shares a few highlights.

The grand marshals of the parade were Siouxland District Health’s Kevin Grieme and Tyler Brock. They were honored for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Saturday in the Park starts tonight at 5 p.m. at Grandview Park and continues Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. 

U.S. Drought Monitor

Even with the deluges of rain, hail, and thunderstorms that brought severe flash flooding to parts of Iowa, June wrapped up with below-normal rainfall statewide.

State experts tell Radio Iowa the first half of the month was in the top ten for warmth.

The second half of June brought storms and plenty of them for other regions of the state, with up to 11 inches in southeastern Iowa.

Sioux City Police Department

July 1st ushered in several new laws for the state of Iowa, including a new permit-less gun law. A permit is no longer needed to carry or buy a handgun.

People still need background checks when buying from a federally licensed gun dealer. No check is needed for private sales.

However, someone would face a felony charge for selling a firearm to someone prohibited from having one.

A decision by the Iowa Supreme Court overturned a landmark ruling for a former state official with Siouxland ties who sued the former Governor of Iowa.

Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer has the story.

The Iowa Supreme Court overturned a $1.5 million dollar jury verdict saying there was no evidence former Gov. Terry Branstad discriminated or retaliated against a state official who is gay.

“To some extent it is not unexpected, but the decision itself is bizarre.”

pxhere.com

Iowa’s new permit-less gun law is in effect as of today. Iowans no longer need a permit to carry or purchase a handgun.

Sgt. Jeremy McClure is a spokesperson for the Sioux City Police Department.

“What hasn’t changed though is when you are carrying a concealed weapon, you can’t take them into schools, or certain businesses. And, you can’t have a gun if you are intoxicated. So, it’s important people know those laws before they carry a concealed weapon in Iowa.”

Nebraska plans to stop reporting coronavirus numbers online after Wednesday. The state Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that it plans to retire the online dashboard that it has used to report statistics on the coronavirus pandemic for more than a year. The current state virus emergency also is set to expire on Wednesday, and along with that Nebraska will eliminate the last few social distancing guidelines that remain in place. As of its final update Wednesday, the state had reported 224,488 virus cases and 2,261 deaths linked to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Siouxland Public Media/Sheila Brummer

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad did not illegally discriminate or retaliate against a gay state official — overturning a landmark $1.5 million jury verdict. The court on Wednesday found a lack of evidence to show Branstad, a former U.S. ambassador to China, discriminated against then-Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey because of his sexual orientation.

Saturday in the Park

Saturday in the Park takes place this Friday and Saturday. One of the co-founders Dave Bernstein updated the media today on this year’s event. Siouxland Public Media caught up with him this afternoon for details on Siouxland’s premier summer festival.

The two-day festival kicks off Friday night at 5:00pm and continues Saturday starting at 2 p.m. at Grandview Park in Sioux City, Iowa. More information can be found at saturdayinthepark.com

News release from the city of Sioux City:

Siouxland News - CBS 14 | FOX 44

Gun deaths have been surging in Iowa as a law is set to go into effect that will allow people to more easily buy handguns and carry them in public without training or a permit. The Iowa Department of Public Health said Tuesday that a record 353 people died from gunshot wounds in Iowa in 2020, a 23% increase from the previous high in 2019. This year saw 85 firearm homicides, an 80% increase. Suicides still made up three of every four gun deaths in the state.

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