Home News Wednesday Afternoon News, March 17th

Wednesday Afternoon News, March 17th


U-K Variant Of COVID-19 Detected In Plymouth County

(Le Mars, IA) — The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has confirmed seven cases of the COVID-19 variant, SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7. in Plymouth County. IDPH will not share any additional identifiable information about the individuals affected, as this is confidential protected patient information.

IDPH and local public health have already initiated contact with these cases to understand their exposures to gather more details about illness, travel history, and potential exposures and initiate the health monitoring process. The process will include notifying anyone with whom these individuals have been in close contact. The individuals will be advised to isolate in accordance with IDPH and CDC guidance.

The positive cases were identified by the State Hygienic Lab (SHL). SHL has been participating in the CDC’s SARS-CoV-2 Strain Surveillance Program by sending COVID-19 test samples to be sequenced for the B.1.1.7 variant since early December. SHL recently began doing their own internal sequencing of 45 specimens per week to look specifically for the variant. It was through routine analysis of genetic sequence data assisted in identifying the new variant strain in Iowa.

The virus variant is often referred to as the U.K. variant because it was first detected in the United Kingdom. Based on epidemiologic and modeling data, researchers believe that the B.1.1.7 strain can be spread more easily than the original strain of SARS-CoV-2. Researchers believe current COVID-19 vaccines will likely protect against B.1.1.7, and additional studies are ongoing. Floyd Valley Healthcare still is offering vaccination clinics. Eligibility and appointment information can be found on FloydValley.org. Governor Reynolds announced at today’s press conference that she anticipates opening vaccine eligibility to all as of April 5th.

The emergence of new variants underscores that it remains critical for Iowans to continue the mitigation efforts that we know work to slow the spread of COVID-19. We need Iowans to remain vigilant in the fight against COVID-19 and continue to:

· Wear a mask or face covering

· Practice social distancing with those outside your household

· Clean your hands frequently with soap and water

· Stay home if you feel sick

· Get tested if you are exposed to, or have symptoms of COVID-19

· Consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to you.




Floyd Valley Healthcare Honored With Police Department’s “Blue Line” Award

(Le Mars) — Floyd Valley Healthcare was presented with the “Blue Line” award from the Le Mars Police Department Wednesday morning. Assistant Police Chief Justin Daale mentioned that many businesses were adversely affected by the
outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he thought Floyd Valley Healthcare was perhaps the most impacted, stretching from the hospital’s nursing staff to even the housekeeping department. Dustin Wright, Floyd Valley C-E-O, and
Lorrie Mortensen, Director of Nursing, accepted the plaque from the police department and commented of how proud they are of the entire staff at Floyd Valley Healthcare for their work and dedication, not just during the era of the pandemic, but everyday. Several nurses and other hospital staff were on hand
to witness the plaque ceremony. In addition to Assistant Police Chief Justin Daale, Sgt. Dan Plueger, Officer John Vickery and office assistant Jill Vander Windt all attended the award presentation ceremony.




Governor Reynolds Says Additional Vaccine Doses Are On Their Way To Iowa

(Des Moines) — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced during her weekly news conference held Wednesday morning that the Centers of Disease Control is reporting one-point-15 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to Iowa. She continued to give statistics regarding Iowa and the number of vaccinations already implemented.

Reynolds informed the news media that all three pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the COVID-19 vaccine have given their assurance that production is being ramped up, with a significant number of vaccines will be delivered to the state in April.





COVID Data Site Back Up

(Des Moines, IA) — The Iowa Department of Public Health says the data center that provides information on the state’s COVD vaccination program is back up and running. I-D-P-H says a hardware malfunction Tuesday kept providers from accessing the site to update vaccination information. The website is expected
to be updated around noon today (Wednesday) with the current information on vaccinations.




Ernst Calls For Action On Border Crisis

(Washington, DC) — Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is calling for a bipartisan effort to address issues of border security. The Biden administration says there is a big problem at the southern border, but Ernst says it is a crisis and national security issue. Ernst is the top Republican on the Emerging Threats Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Ernst says a number of her Senate Democrat colleagues acknowledge there is a crisis at the border. Ernst says trans-national criminal organizations are exploiting our situation at the border and are engaging in nefarious activities — from Chinese money laundering to human trafficking. Ernst says the U-S needs to
take action.




Campus Free Speech Bill Passes Iowa House

(Des Moines, IA) — A bill calling for faculty and students at the three state universities to be trained each year about free speech rights has passed the Iowa House. Republican Representative Dustin Hite of New Sharon says the bill is in response to three high-profile incidents in which the views of conservative students at Iowa, Iowa State, and U-N-I were dismissed or denigrated. The University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and
the University of Northern Iowa have already adopted the provisions of the bill as a policy for the three schools. The lone “no” on the vote came from Representative Dave Jacoby, a Democrat from Coralville. He says the bill is not needed to protect free speech and doesn’t open new doors for
those who want to practice their First Amendment rights.




Effort Underway To Repair Ship Named For Iowans

(Undated) — A fundraising effort is underway to save a decommissioned warship named in honor of Waterloo’s Five Sullivan Brothers. The 78-year-old destroyer is anchored at the Buffalo and Eric County Naval and Military Park now as a
tourist attraction. Crews recently discovered three holes in the hull of the national historic landmark named for the five brothers who died together in World War Two. Pumps are being used to remove the water from the vessel, but they are struggling to keep up. Naval Park officials are seeking 100-thousand
dollars in donations to make emergency repairs. A more extensive one-million-dollar project to permanently fix the ship is scheduled to begin this summer.