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When Iowa lawmakers start a new legislative session in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic they will not be required to wear masks. That’s according to new protocols for lawmakers as they return to the Statehouse on Monday. 

A six-page memo sent out by Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver and Speaker of the House Pat Grassley does say social distancing should be practiced.  But, if an individual can’t do so, a face covering is recommended.  But, there is no mandate.

Woodbury Central School District

A northwest Iowa teacher has died of complications of COVID-19.

The superintendent of the Woodbury Central School District in Moville confirmed the death of 53-year-old Cherie Dandurand who first started in the district in 1991.

School was called off early yesterday after hearing the news of Dandurand’s death.

She taught middle school social studies.

Iowa has surpassed 4,000 coronavirus-related deaths, marking another grim milestone with its infection rate rising again and most people still months from being able to get vaccinated.

State health officials reported 61 additional deaths on Wednesday, pushing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 4,060. Iowa had the 16th highest per capita coronavirus death rate, at nearly 127 deaths per 100,000 people, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

GoFundMe

There’s a new development in Sioux City’s first murder investigation of 2021.  Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer with the latest and more details on the young lady police call an “innocent victim.”

A Sioux City teenager is behind bars and charged in connection with a deadly shooting during a New Year’s celebration.

Eighteen-year-old Mia Kritis of Sioux City was killed while attending a party near Walker and Morningside Avenue. That’s near the Whispering Creek neighborhood. Three other teens were hurt.

Dakota County Health Department

A grim update from the Dakota County Health Department today as officials recorded seven additional deaths due to complications of COVID-19 for a total of 65 since the start of the pandemic.  There were two new cases.

Siouxland District Health reports 42 new cases of COVID-19 in a 24-hour period in Woodbury County.  There have been 171 deaths and more than 12,400 cases with almost 90% recovered. 

The 14-day test positivity rate for Woodbury County is up again by almost a third of a percentage point to 15.8%. 

CDC

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports three more COVID-19 related deaths in Woodbury County on Monday for 171 since the start of the pandemic. 

In one week, Iowa added 247 deaths and more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases.  In Woodbury County, there were 17 additional cases and a 14-day test positivity rate of 15.5%.  That is up two-percent points from a week ago.

The end of the year, also means the end of almost 4 decades in law enforcement for Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew.  The 60-year-old retires at the end of the year after eight-years leading the Sheriff’s Office.  

He reflects on his long career and the evolution of law enforcement with Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer before incoming Sheriff Chad Sheehan takes office.

National Weather Service

Winter storm warnings and advisories are posted for all of Siouxland. Moderate to heavy snow could continue into tonight according to the National Weather Service.  Accumulations of 3 to 7 inches of snow expected, with higher amounts possible along with some drifting snow.

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings for parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Illinois.

By Tuesday morning, snow was so heavy in western Nebraska that Interstates 80 and 76 were closed in both directions after several accidents.

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service says an “impactful” winter storm is moving into the region Tuesday and Tuesday night.

Moderate to heavy snow is expected with 3 to 7 inches for Siouxland.

Because of the incoming winter storm, there have been snow emergencies issued for several Siouxland communities, including Sioux City, South Sioux, Dakota City, North Sioux, Hinton and Norfolk, Nebraska.

Heavy, wet snow will blanket much of the state tomorrow so forecasters recommend putting off travel plans until the winter storm has passed.

CDC

The Iowa Department of Public Health reported five more COVID-19-related deaths and almost 1,500 additional coronavirus cases in the state in a 24-hour period that ended on Christmas morning. 

There have been 3,744 deaths and almost 274,000 positive cases since the state of the pandemic.

Siouxland District Health

  

Another 71 people died in Iowa of the coronavirus, including 3 more in Woodbury County.  Siouxland District Health is no longer releasing information on the age or sex of COVID-19 related deaths.  There were 39 new cases in the county and more than 1,400 statewide in a 24-hour period. 

The total number of deaths in Iowa is 3,739.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that in the past 14 days, Iowa has reported almost 700 new confirmed cases per 100,000 people. That ranks the state 40th nationally during that period.

Sioux City Police Department

Sioux City Police are on the lookout for a Sioux City man accused of a shooting at a gentleman’s club over the weekend. 

A woman was serious hurt during the shooting that took place after a fight outside Mavericks in the old stockyard area early on Saturday.  The victim was in the parking lot at the time watching the confrontation that didn’t involve the suspect.  Witnesses say 26-year-old Rudy C. Johnson started shooting toward the fight.

National Weather Service

We are getting a “White Christmas” courtesy of a winter storm.

Blizzard warnings are posted for all of Siouxland due to snow, strong winds and bitter cold until 9 tonight. 

The weather is creating treacherous travel conditions.

The National Weather Service says Sioux City is expected to receive three inches of snow. But, some spots in the region could see 5-to-7 inches.

Because of worsening weather conditions, Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott issued a snow emergency.

IDPH

At a news conference Tuesday morning, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations are on the way down.  She credits extra restrictions issued for Iowans last month.  Reynolds urges the public to follow health guidelines, including avoiding gathering during the holidays.

Reynolds says more than 8,400 front-line health care workers have been immunized for COVID-19. Last week, state officials had hoped to receive 26,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Reynolds pointed to a planning error that caused an overestimate in the state’s allotment.

No new deaths were reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health in the past 24-hours that ended this morning at 10 a.m.  Six-hundred more Iowans tested positive for the virus.  Almost 3,600 Iowans have died, including two more in Woodbury County, for 159 deaths locally and 25 new cases.

Even though no deaths were added in Iowa today.  On, Sunday health officials recorded another 138 deaths due to the coronavirus.  The high death toll follows two days when no deaths were reported.

UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's

Even though the number of hospitalizations in Sioux City has fallen by more than half in the past two weeks, one local emergency room doctor says people still need to double down to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“It’s been very challenging with high volumes of COVID-19 patients who tend to stay in the hospital for longer periods of time and other patients as well.”

CDC

The Sioux City Community School District released a weekly report on COVID-19 cases and for the first time also listed students and staff in quarantine.

This past week, the report showed four students and six staff members tested positive for the virus.

One multi-grade classroom at North Middle was put into Emergency Response Virtual Learning.

Siouxland News/KMEG/FOX44

Sioux City’s two hospitals received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine today. 

This is audio from a live stream from Siouxland News KMEG 14-FOX 44 television on Facebook this afternoon of two veteran front-line health care workers getting their shots at MercyOne. 

Nurse, Mary Jones and the Medical Director for Emergency Medicine Siouxland Dr. Joe Liewer were the first two to get their shots.  Both have worked for more than 25 years at the hospital. 

Beth Hughes is President at MercyOne.

Associated Press

It’s unclear why Iowa will receive fewer doses of coronavirus vaccine than initially promised by the federal government.

But the state is moving ahead with plans to relax restrictions beginning Thursday even while reporting nearly 100 additional deaths.

The Iowa Department of Public Health released a statement Wednesday evening saying the state’s allocation would be reduced by up to 30%.

The statement noted distributions were also being lowered to other states. The agency didn’t explain why the allocation would be smaller.

12.16.20
Iowa PBS

Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced she is easing some restrictions in response to the decreasing number of new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. Though these rates are still far higher than the first peak in the spring.

TYSON

The family of a 65-year-old Iowa man  is suing Tyson after he died of COVID-19 while working at the company's pork plant in Storm Lake. Michael Everhard, of Fonda, died June 18, three weeks after he contracted the virus. His family contends in a lawsuit that Tyson didn't implement proper safety precautions to protect Everhard and other employees from the virus. Several Tyson executives at the plant are also named in the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of Everhard's three children.

Sioux City Community Schools

The Sioux City Community School Board took action to try and slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep students and staff safe.  Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer with a wrap-up of last night’s meeting.

The Sioux City Community School Board unanimously voted Monday night to return to hybrid learning after Winter Break on January 4, 2020. 

The district started the first two-weeks with students either attending class on Monday-Thursday or Tuesday-Friday.

Siouxland District Health Department

The first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in all three Siouxland States.

Siouxland District Health says Woodbury County will receive almost 2,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the next few days for front-line health care workers.  Director Kevin Grieme admits the vaccine will only cover about 50% initially needed.

Other doses will come in phases and the national pharmacy network will distribute additional doses to long-term care facilities.

When the vaccine by Moderna gets the go-ahead there will be 400 doses for EMS workers in Woodbury County.

pxhere.com

The Sioux City Community School Board meets tonight and the issue of education during the COVID-19 pandemic will be a likely discussion.

Two board members sent the superintendent a letter last week calling for more transparency in reporting COVID-19 cases.  They believe they’re not seeing the full picture when it comes to absentee rates due to virus-related quarantines.

“There’s more doubt from what we are hearing from teachers and parents.” 

Bernie Scolaro

West High School Counselor Bernie Scolaro talked to SPM's Sheila Brummer about her personal battle with COVID-19 and thoughts on school safety.

Scolaro has worked at West High School for more than 20 years and also spent time at Bishop Heelan Catholic Schools and at Catholic Charities as a counselor.  She is the current Vice President of the Siouxland Uniserv Unit for teachers and is the Past President of the Sioux City Education Association.

Dan Greenwell and Taylor Goodvin

Two members of the Sioux City Community School Board say the district needs to be more transparent when it comes to releasing information about COVID-19 so they can make informed decisions during the pandemic.  A weekly report is expected tomorrow.

One of the two members, Dan Greenwell, talked to SPM’s Sheila Brummer about concerns he shares with board member Taylor Goodvin.

Full statement from the Sioux City Community School District:

pxhere.com

The debate continues on K-12 education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iowa’s Governor wants to keep students in class.  A recent survey teachers in the Sioux City Community School district showed only 10% wanted to continue with in-person learning.  Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer explores the issue with a couple of long-time educator, union leader and school administrator.

Lesa Banks

Trying to keep students educated during this age of COVID-19 has been a strain.  A strain for young people, their families, educators and staff in school districts across the region and here in Sioux City. 

Lesa Banks, a long-time art teacher in Sioux City, serves as a liaison for the local teachers’ union and the Iowa State Education Association as an exeutive board member for Siouxland Uniserv. Banks tells Siouxland Public Media teachers would rather have students in school but safety should be the highest priority.  

Iowa PBS

Iowa’s governor says she wants to keep students in class during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would encourage parents to talk to educators, talk to school board and let’s get kids back in school.”

Governor Kim Reynolds made her statements during a news conference this morning.

Reynolds says scientific evidence shows children up to the age of 10 are less likely to become infected and most positive cases in schools are from staff members who were likely infected from outside the classroom.

coronavirus.iowa.gov

Iowa started tracking the COVID-19 deaths of people who were diagnosed with the virus but not tested, a change that could add hundreds more deaths to the state's count.

Iowa now accepts clinical diagnoses from doctors and not just positive virus tests when attributing a death to coronavirus.

The change removed 433 deaths from the system but added 610, providing an initial net gain of 177 deaths and raising the state's toll to more than 2,900. Some of the removed cases could be added back in.

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