Home News Thursday News, February 18th

Thursday News, February 18th


YMCA Holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremony For Renovated Expanded Addition

(Le Mars) — For the first time in months, the Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce held a Chamber Coffee event, Wednesday, at the Le Mars Community Wellness Center, or also known as the YMCA. Several people attended the coffee to see the new additions for the expanded fitness facilities. YMCA Executive Director, Todd Lancaster cut the ribbon to officially acknowledge the opening of the new fitness room.¬† The expansion construction was completed nearly a month ago.




Governor Reynolds Says Conditions Are Improving Across The State For the Battle Against COVID-19 Virus

(Des Moines) — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds gave some reassurance to Iowans during her news conference that the state would be getting an increase supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses. Reynolds says the state’s recovery from COVID-19 continues to move in a positive manner on all fronts. Reynolds says that 87
of the state’s 99 counties have a 14-day positivity rate of below ten percent. The governor says outbreaks in Iowa’s long-term nursing care facilities are down, as also are the number of COVID patients at Iowa’s hospitals. She says hospitalizations have dropped more than 85 percent since their peak in November. The governor says Iowa has administered nearly a half a million doses of the 615,100 doses allocated for the “Hawkeye State.”
Governor Reynolds addressed the situation involving the five counties that didn’t use all of its vaccine allotment last week.

Reynolds says officials should find a way to administer the vaccine allocations in a better timely manner.

The five Iowa counties that did not administer all of its vaccine dosages include: Buchanan, Poweshiek, Washington, Chickasaw, and Hancock.




Over-the-Counter Home Based COVID Tests Kits May Soon Be Available

(Des Moines) — The Director of Iowa Department of Human Services says COVID-19 test kits may soon be available as an over-the-counter home test unit. Kelly Garcia appeared at Governor Reynolds news conference Wednesday
and informed the media the tests kits should be modestly priced.

Garcia says with the introduction of the new home-based test kits, it obviously will mean a change in the manner how the Iowa Department of Public Health will report the number of COVID tests conducted in Iowa.

Garcia thanked the county public health officials for the monitoring and testing of COVID-19, and now for their assistance with the administrating of the vaccine.

Garcia calls the collaboration between state agencies, and health care professionals as a “team sport.”




Utilities Board Chairman Offers Update On Roll-over Blackouts

(Des Moines) — Iowa Utilities Board Chair, Geri Huser, attended Governor Reynolds’ news conference on Wednesday to offer an explanation, as well as an update involving the current situation where some electrical cooperatives and energy companies have been forced to implement roll-over blackouts during the extreme cold conditions. Huser says in part, the problem lies with the high demand for natural gas and the temporary shortage of the distribution of the natural gas used to power generators for electricity. Huser says for the last couple of weeks the Iowa Utilities Board has monitored the situation.

Huser says the extreme cold temperatures have adversely affected the Midwest, but also the southern states where much of the natural gas originates to help generate power.

Huser says Iowa’s largest power companies were not affected by the problem, and were able to deliver power to its customers without interruption.




State Dropping Plans For Central COVID Scheduling Website

(Des Moines, IA) — Governor Kim Reynolds announced¬† Wednesday that the state is canceling the contract for Microsoft to build a website for Iowans to schedule a Covid shot. Reynolds says it quickly became apparent that integrating the many already existing administration and scheduling platforms would not be possible in a timely manner without disruptions in the
current systems. Reynolds says when they looked at the 700 different providers giving vaccinations and the timeline to get that done — it just didn’t make sense to move forward. State officials are encouraging county public health departments and pharmacies to schedule more vaccinations on weekends, when it may be more convenient for people who cannot get to a
vaccination site during the week.




Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Begins Going Out

(Des Moines, IA) — Iowa Workforce Development deputy director Ryan West says the agency began processing this latest round of expanded pandemic unemployment benefits last (Tuesday) night. If you are eligible, West says you should start seeing payments within five to seven business days. West
says the delay in sending out checks was due to different processes and requirements for this new round of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment compared to what was released last April. The agency’s director told legislators most will receive all of their benefits at once, however, some may get just one
week’s worth of benefits as officials determine how many additional weeks’ worth of benefits should be paid out.




Bill Would Cut Early Voting Period

(Des Moines, IA) — A bill in the Iowa Senate would shorten the early voting period to 18 days before the election. Early voting currently starts 29 days before election day. Senator Roby (like “Robbie”) Smith of Davenport says cutting back will limit voter remorse, the length of campaigning in the state, and allow more time for informed voting. During a subcommittee hearing on the bill, Vicki Aden (AY-den) of Iowa City spoke against the move
— saying legislators should make exercising the right to vote as easy as possible. Campbell-Fleming, a lobbyist representing the Area Agencies on Aging, raised concerns about a part of the bill that would ban county election officials from mailing absentee ballot application forms to voters.
She says individuals with disabilities or older Iowans may not have a printer to print it off at home. The bill also sets new fines for county auditors who fail to follow Iowa election law.




Governor Calls For Ethanol Mandate

(Des Moines, IA) — Governor Kim Reynolds says it’s time for an ethanol mandate in Iowa, to boost an industry battered by the E-P-A’s resistance to the federal ethanol production mandate. Reynolds says the state needs to take charge of its own destiny. Bills introduced in the House and Senate
would require Iowa gas pumps to offer at least a 10 percent ethanol blend by 2024. There’s also a requirement that all diesel fuel sold in the state include a percentage of soybean-based biodiesel. The plan has the support of the biofuels industry and farm groups. Gas stations, truck stops and convenience stores oppose the bill — saying expenses for retailers to comply
with the mandate will be passed along to motorists.




Iowa City Ponders Next Step After Riot Review

(Iowa City, IA) — Leaders in Iowa City are trying to figure out how to move forward following an independent review of how Iowa City police officers used tear gas against racial-justice protesters last summer. The lengthy report by a California firm found it was the Iowa State Patrol that made key decisions to block the marchers, though Iowa City police largely used the gas
and flashbangs against protesters as they marched towards Interstate-80. The report lists 39 recommendations for police training, de-escalation and communication. Mayor Bruce Teague says the city wants feedback from the community and the police department.