Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (R)

Cities across Iowa will have a month to decide what to do with a windfall of federal money coming their way over the next two years, thanks to the pandemic relief bill passed by Congress in March.

Gov. Kim Reynolds announced today that 930 cities with less than 50,000 population are eligible for $220 million distributed by the Iowa Department of Management. The cities can use it for water, sewer, and broadband investments, enhance pandemic preparedness, or launch programs that directly support workers and small businesses.

The money is in addition to the $1.5 billion the state receives over the next two years from the American Rescue Plan Act. A dozen larger cities, including Sioux City and Council Bluffs, are drawing down their own allocation of $339 million in federal money, according to the National League of Cities.

Iowa Department of Public Health

COVID-19 rates and hospitalizations continue to fall throughout a large portion of the state of Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Public Health on Monday added no new deaths due to complications of the illness with around 30 new cases. There have been 6,114 deaths during the pandemic. Almost one-and-a-half million are fully vaccinated.

Hospitalization have fallen to 54 patients, that is the lowest since the end of March 2020.

The 14-day positivity rate is 2% statewide, and the seven-day positivity rate is 1.9%.

Associated Press

Nebraska and South Dakota closed state offices today to honor the new Federal Juneteenth Holiday. 

However, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has not said anything about Juneteenth. The state started recognizing the holiday in 2002, however, state workers do not get a paid day off.

However, Reynolds did sign a pro-police measure into law yesterday. It includes heightened criminal penalties for certain protest activities.

Sioux City native Shelby Houlihan yesterday received some bad news. It looks like she now has very little chance of competing at the U.S. Olympic trials today.  Her chances diminished sharply late yesterday when the country's Olympic committee said it would follow all antidoping rules, and USA Track and Field received long-awaited official notice of her suspension. 

Earlier this week, the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld Houlihan's four-year ban for testing positive for trace amounts of a performance-enhancing drug. She blamed her positive test on a pork burrito she ate 10 hours before a test in December. Contaminated meats have led to positive tests in other cases, many of which have been dismissed.At first, the USATF said would not bar the American record-holder at 1,500 and 5,000 meters from running in today's preliminary heats until she had exhausted every appeal. However, later on, yesterday, the USATF was said it would take Houlihan off the start lists since it had received official word from the Athletics Integrity Unit.  The unit conducted the test that led to the suspension, that Houlihan had been banned for four years.

Deliberations will resume Friday morning in the Mollie Tibbitts Murder Trial.

Associated Press

Health officials in all three Siouxland states have temporary stopped use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, following CDC and FDA recommendations. This move comes after six women experienced severe and rare blood clots, resulting in one death. One case was diagnosed in Nebraska.

Health officials in South Dakota say no adverse cases were reported in nearly 16,000 doses of the J&J vaccine.  More than 78 thousand doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in Iowa.

News release from the state of Nebraska:

CDC

The state of Nebraska plans to open up vaccinations for anyone 18 years or older starting on Monday, April 5th.

Governor Pete Ricketts made the announcement this morning during a news conference.

Ricketts expects additional doses to arrive through the Federal Pharmacy Program, including a big influx of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Ricketts plans to receive his vaccine this weekend.

pxhere.com

Iowa’s revenue forecasting panel is projecting state revenue will come in just shy of the level needed for more income tax cuts to kick in.

Revenue would need to grow 4 percent next fiscal year to trigger more income tax cuts in 2023. But the latest estimate from today is 3-point-8 percent growth, potentially pushing tax cuts to 2024 or later.

NPR/Getty Images

The Nebraska Department of Health reports the COVID-19 variant from the United Kingdom has been found in Siouxland somewhere in the counties covered by the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department. This includes the counties of Cedar, Dixon, Thurston, and Wayne. The variant is more infectious and could cause more severe illness.

Today is the one-year anniversary of the first positive cases of COVID-19 in the state of Iowa. Then were there three positive cases, since the start of Pandemic with more than 367,000 positive test results. There have been 5,559 deaths statewide and 214 in Woodbury County.

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports one more death due to complications of COVID-19 and almost 140 positive cases, including eight in Woodbury County.

Associated Press

The Iowa Department of Public Health recorded three more deaths statewide due to complications of COVID-19 and more than 600 new positive test results, including 28 in Woodbury County.

The number of hospitalizations fell below 200 in Iowa. Sioux City’s two medical facilities saw a decrease of about 30% in patients with COVID-19. There were 15 yesterday and 11 today. The 14-day test positivity rate is up slightly to 6%.

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.

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.

Facebook/IA Gov. Kim Reynolds

Schools will have to offer in-person classes full-time under a bill signed this morning by Governor Kim Reynolds.

She signed the measure at the state capitol with parents who have pushed for in-person learning.

The law gives school districts until February 15th to transition to all in-person classes.

National Weather Service

Siouxland is gearing up for the second Blizzard Warning in three weeks.  The warning starts tonight at 6 and extends until 6 p.m. tomorrow.  The forecast calls for 3 to 8 inches by tomorrow afternoon, with wind gusts as high as 60 miles per hour.

On social media, the National Weather Service says the severity of the storm will depend on how much snow falls. If we see more than an inch on the group with additional blowing snow, conditions will be more significant, especially for portions of Iowa and Minnesota.

Iowa has surpassed 200,000 coronavirus cases today, with 4,359 confirmed additional cases. Another 25 people with COVID-19 have died, according to the state coronavirus website,  coronavirus.Iowa.gov.

In Woodbury county, there have been 127 cases added in the last 24 hours. 
Siouxland District Health reports that there has been one additional death of an older adult female (61-80).

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The Sioux City Community School District this week has 11 reports of positive COVID-19 cases from students that attended school, and 21 reports of positive COVID-19 cases from staff that attended school.  The district moved several classrooms and one entire middle school to virtual learning this wee.  East Middle School and Sunnyside Elementary each had one classroom go virtual, Morningside STEM Elementary had two classrooms closed down, and West Middle School will hold only virtual classes through November 25, the day before Thanksgiving. 

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In Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts today outlined new and tighter health restrictions that he plans to impose if COVID-19 patients fill 25% or more of hospital beds. 

If the number of patients hits that mark, he would limit indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people. He would close bars except for delivery and take-out, hold wedding and funeral receptions to the 10-person limit and postpone any elective surgery that can be delayed. 

The state of Iowa today is reporting more than 850 new cases of the coronavirus this morning and three new deaths.  Iowa has had more than 71 thousand cases of the virus and more than 12 hundred deaths.  Woodbury County Iowa reports 38 new cases of the cor0navirus and a total of 58 deaths, with no further deaths, and a total of over 44 hundred cases since the start of the pandemic. 

In an effort to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus,  Sioux City Transit passengers will be required to wear protective masks or face coverings on buses, beginning Wednesday and continuing until further notice.

Also by Wednesday, Sioux City officials have decided to require masks or face coverings while in city buildings. 

This week on The Exchange:

Siouxland mayors, including Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott, demand more transparency about the source of the recent surge in coronavirus cases in the tri-state area.

Governor Kim Reynolds looks forward to opening up 77 Iowa counties this Friday, after many weeks of lockdown because of COVID-19.

Iowa's Home Rule Constitutional Amendment could affect local rules about shutdowns during the pandemic, but, so far, the governor has the last word.

  

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COVID-19 cases have increased to 179 in Iowa 

The Iowa Department of Public Health says 34 more people have tested positive for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. 

Drive-through testing for COVID-19 will start in Woodbury County tomorrow.

But, testing isn’t available for everyone.  It’s being held in an undisclosed location for patients with recommendations from their doctors.

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Monona County has its first case of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.

This is the fourth such case in Northwest Iowa.  Woodbury County was the first in the region to have a positive case announced over the weekend, followed by Sioux Countynthe following day. A second case was confirmed in Woodbury County this week. 

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Governor Pete Rickets, said Nebraskans showed the world what it truly means to be Nebraska Strong, in his State of the State address this morning in Lincoln.

RICKETTS #1 - TRT: 14

“Nebraskans not only rescued stranded neighbors, but they also sandbagged levees, donated hay and supplies, delivered hot meals, and raised money for those who had lost everything.”

A federal report released today says Nebraska suffered more than $3.4 billion in losses from disastrous weather last year while the toll was $1.9 billion in Iowa.

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The Iowa Legislature begins its work next Monday, January 13th. 

Leaders from both political parties say they believe this 2020 election-year session will feature a multipronged discussion of state tax policies encompassing income, sales, property and business taxes — but they would not be surprised if it takes most of the scheduled 100 days for a consensus to develop if one does at all.

SIOUX CITY, IA - JANUARY 5, 2020
Siouxland Public Media

Less than a month before the Iowa caucuses, the top tier is a cluster of four candidates: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Former Secretary of State and presidential candidate John Kerry will be in Sioux City tomorrow afternoon campaigning for Biden.  He’ll make an appearance at Biden’s campaign office on Hamilton Boulevard along with other national elected officials supporting Biden.

Over the weekend candidate and Maryland Congressman John Delaney visited Siouxland.

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Democratic lawmakers in the Iowa House and Senate are calling for an investigation of why Republican Governor Kim Reynolds asked a former state agency director to resign.