Vaccinations

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Governor Kim Reynolds is defending her decision to end additional federal unemployment benefits

Reynolds and business groups say the extra payments to unemployed Iowans are keeping them from taking new jobs at a time when businesses can’t find enough workers.

However, Reynolds says employers need to step up and offer more to attract employees. She made her comment today the Food Bank of Iowa where she also announced the end of the Iowa Food Protection Task Force.

CDC

State health officials have confirmed two cases of a COVID-19 variant, commonly known as the India variant, in Iowa.

The cases were identified in two adults in Jefferson County in southeast Iowa.

Officials say they are still learning about the characteristics of the strain. But they say there is no evidence it is more easily transmitted or more likely to cause severe illness.

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An internal report has found that state police officers in Iowa drew their weapons and used force against suspects significantly more often in 2020 than prior years, due to a major increase in resistance.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety's annual report on force incidents found that suspects fled in vehicles and on foot from officers far more often in 2020.

Nebraska Health and Human Services

Nebraska Governor Pete Rickets offered a word of caution during a news conference on Monday. Nebraska is seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients after 18 weeks of falling hospitalizations. Ricketts says there is more of the virus out in the community and reminded Nebraskans to avoid the “three C’s”: closed spaces, crowded places, and close contact.

Siouxland District Health

Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced all Iowans may be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by April 5th.

Reynolds says she anticipates eligibility will expand as long as the state’s vaccine allocation increases as much as the federal government anticipates.

She says White House officials told her this week that they expect to significantly boost doses starting the week of March 29. This could double the state’s current weekly supply.

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A Polk County jury has found Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri not guilty of violating police orders during a racial justice protest last summer. Sahouri testified that she was pepper-sprayed and arrested at the protest near Merle Hay Mall in Des Moines, as she was trying to move away from police who were using tear gas to break up a crowd.

In his closing statement, defense attorney Nick Klinefeldt told the jury Sahouri was at the protest to cover it for the Register, not to break the law.

Sioux City, IA - March 1, 2021
youtube/City of Sioux City

Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott declared March 1st COVID-19 Memorial Day.

“To remember the survivors and victims of the COVID-19 Pandemic and to acknowledge the sacrifices and service of all first responders, medical providers, and others who have stepped up during this global pandemic.”

Council Member Alex Watters questioned if more could have been done to prevent deaths in the community.

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A bill introduced in the Iowa Senate would require schools to provide an option for full-time in-person learning during the pandemic, a proposal that Governor Kim Reynolds highlighted in her Condition of the State speech.

The president of the Iowa State Education Association says forcing more students into classrooms could make it easier for the coronavirus to spread.

CDC

Nebraska teachers and meatpacking workers worry it will take longer for essential workers like them to get the coronavirus vaccine now that the next group of people to be vaccinated has been expanded to include everyone 65 and older.  An education association leader says teachers are disappointed to hear they won’t get their shots until March at the earliest.

CDC

Nebraska plans to expand the next phase of its coronavirus vaccine campaign to include everyone 65 and older. Previously, the state had planned to vaccinate people 75 and older during the next phase, but the federal guidance on who should be vaccinated next changed this week.

That phase also includes essential workers who cannot work from home.

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.

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Gov. Kim Reynolds says today she is ok with a state board's recommendation to change the level potency of legally available medical marijuana products. Some lawmakers wanted to allow higher amounts of THC. THC is the chemical that makes recreational marijuana users high.

Lawmakers have been searching for a bill that would meet Reynolds' approval after she vetoed a proposal last year that would have expanded the state's medical-marijuana program. 

An official says results from new tests for the Coronavirus on 13 people evacuated to an Omaha hospital from a cruise ship in Japan await confirmation from federal experts.

Officials with Nebraska Medicine says results aren't expected for several days.

The 13 were part of a larger group of American citizens who'd arrived back in the U.S. Monday.

One of the 13 was placed in a biocontainment unit at Nebraska Medical Center to receive a higher level of care because he had a cough and other symptoms in addition to a chronic illness. 

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Pete Buttigieg is clinging to a slight lead over Bernie Sanders in a new batch of votes released by the Iowa Democratic Party. The race remained too early to call with 75% of precincts reporting by today, almost two full days after the state hosted its first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses.