Home News Thursday News, March 18th

Thursday News, March 18th


U-K Variant Strand Of COVID 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 Presented “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 Lauri 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 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.




Reynolds Says Additional Doses Of COVID Vaccine Are Coming 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.

Reynolds says priority will continue for Tier 1-C which includes employees of food processing, and other agriculture outlets. She says many employers have worked with their county health departments and have conducted clinics and administering the vaccinations.

The Iowa governor says as the state is given a larger allocation of vaccine doses, more clinics will occur, giving more Iowans the opportunity to get a COVID vaccine.




Vaccinations Open To Everyone In April

(Des Moines, IA) — Everyone in the state should be eligible to get a COVID vaccination starting Monday, April 5th. Governor Kim Reynolds made that announcement today (Wednesday), saying the state will soon be seeing a “significant” increase in the number of vaccine doses heading our way. The Centers for Disease Control indicates 95 percent of Iowans over the age of 65 have had at least one dose of Covid vaccine. Twenty-eight percent of Iowans ages 18 to 65 have had at least one shot. Reynolds says vaccine supply is expected to ramp up at the end of this month and there’ll be another increase in the first week of April.




More Cases Of UK Variant Revealed In Iowa

(Des Moines, IA) — The Iowa Department of Public Health today confirmed 38 additional cases of the U-K COVID-19 variant. The agency says the increase is due in part to the increasing number of tests being done. I-D-P-H and local public health are contacting those with cases and notifying anyone who they have been in close contact with. The department says current vaccines are effective against the variant.




Congresswoman Calls For Changes In Border Actions

(Washington, DC) — Republican Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa says there’s a humanitarian crisis at the country’s southern border and the Biden Administration should no longer allow unaccompanied minors to stay after they cross into the United States. Miller-Meeks is among one dozen Republicans from the U-S House who toured facilities in El Paso this week and met with Border Patrol agents. The number of immigrants illegally crossing the U-S-Mexico border is at its highest level since 2019. Miller-Meeks is a doctor and former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. She says we must ensure that anyone the Biden Administration releases into our communities does not have Covid-19. Border Patrol agents assess the health of migrants, but only those who show Covid symptoms are tested and treated before release from custody.




Immigration Reform Bills Could Impact Iowa Agriculture

(Des Moines, IA) — A pair of bills the U-S House is expected to take up on immigration reform could have a significant impact on Iowa’s largest industry. The executive director of the Iowa State Dairy Association, Mitch Schulte (SHUL-tee), says there is a critical shortage of labor in all sectors of U-S agriculture. He says the industry pays extremely competitive wages and several different benefits but it’s still hard to get workers. He says in a lot of situations they have no choice but to turn to foreign labor. Schulte says much of what’s contained in the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would help solve the ag labor problems which dairy producers are facing.




Iowa Senate Takes Steps To Speed Up Income Tax Cuts

(Des Moines, IA) — The Iowa Senate has unanimously voted to eliminate a financial benchmark to speed up a series of state income tax cuts. House Republicans have expressed concerns about cutting taxes in the middle of a pandemic. Senator Dan Dawson of Council Bluffs says Iowa does have the financial capacity to deal with these priorities. Provisions in the new federal pandemic relief package suggest states that cut taxes must forfeit federal aid. Republican attorneys general from 21 states have threatened to take the Biden Administration to court on this point. The bill would also immediately begin phasing out the state inheritance tax.




Iowa Congresswoman Backs Bill Affecting Timeline For ERA

(Washington, DC) — Iowa Democrat Congresswoman Cindy Axne backed legislation removing the time limit for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Axne said in a statement that “women have been intentionally left out of the Constitution for far too long.” She said if the discrimination women are still fighting hasn’t expired, then neither should the efforts to see the E-R-A added to the Constitution. Republican Congresswoman Ashley Hinson said she was disappointed she didn’t have the opportunity to consider a modern, updated version of the Equal Rights Amendment. Hinson says the premise behind the legislation was Constitutionally unsound and would actually undermine women’s rights and the progress we have made since the 1970s.




Man Who Confronted Des Moines Police Jumps In River, Doesn’t Resurface

(Des Moines, IA) — Des Moines police were called out to a local park on the report of a potentially suicidal person Wednesday evening. Officers found a man unrelated to the call and they say he became confrontational. He then got into a vehicle and began to drive through the park at a high rate of speed. The man eventually stopped and ran to the Des Moines River and jumped in. Officers attempted to throw a rescue line to him — but he went under the water. The person has not been located and the rescue effort ended. Police say there was evidence of alcohol and drugs were observed within the abandoned vehicle.