KXEL Morning News for Mon. Nov. 23, 2020

KXEL Morning News for Mon. Nov. 23, 2020

Iowa First District Congresswoman-elect Ashley Hinson of Marion participated in freshman legislator orientation remotely this month due to COVID-19. In a Friday interview on Fox News Channel’s “Bill Hemmer Reports” program, Hinson talked about why voters elected her, and why Joe Biden’s plan to spend $2 trillion to address climate change would be bad for Iowans.

Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.6% in October, continuing a steady decline since it soared last spring because of lob losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The October rate was down from 4.8% in September and a high of 11% in April, when many businesses halted operations as COVID-19 first swept through the country. The unemployment rate has fallen even as coronavirus infection rates and deaths reach new highs in Iowa. Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend on Friday called the declining rate “a ray of sunshine.” Iowa’s unemployment rate is tied with South Dakota for third-lowest in the nation, behind Nebraska and Vermont. The national unemployment rate for October was 6.9%

Newly re-elected U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa told KXEL listeners earlier this month that she would be active in the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff elections…now comes word that she will be in the state to campaign for fellow Republican incumbent David Perdue in four separate “Defend the Majority” rallies. In an interview on Fox News Channel last week, Ernst discussed the millions of dollars already committed to January’s Georgia runoff election. Lawmakers have raised concerns about the ballot counting process in Georgia, this after thousands of previously-uncounted ballots surfaced in multiple locations in the state just last week.

The Iowa Department of Corrections has reported the first coronavirus-related death of a prison staff member. The Corrections Department says a staff member at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women in Mitchellville died last Monday due to a COVID-19 infection. Eight inmates have died of causes related to the coronavirus.

The latest figures show an increase of 3,401 confirmed cases of the virus from 10:00 a.m. Saturday to 10:00 a.m. yesterday. Nearly 40% of all newly reported tests came back positive. In additional, 33 more deaths were reported over that 24-hour period, meaning 2,191 Iowans have died from COVID-19 during the pandemic. There are now 210,061 total cases confirmed in Iowa.

Coming off a “red wave” in this month’s general election, Republican Party of Iowa state chair Jeff Kaufmann says after some arm-twisting, he plans to stay on for another two years to help Republicans keep the governorship and a U.S. Senate seat in 2022, and to work with Democrats to keep Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses in 2024. The 57-year-old Kaufmann is a former state legislator and current Cedar County supervisor. He likely will run unopposed for the position when the GOP state central committee meets Jan. 9 to select its leadership team. Kaufmann has been party chair since June 2014. Former House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake plans to seek the co-chair position which is being vacated.

Officials at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics have taken steps to accommodate whichever COVID-19 vaccine they get. UIHC has purchased two ultra low freezers that store vaccines at between -60 and -80 degrees Celsius, which will allow them to store the Pfizer vaccine. They also purchased two freezers that store at -20 in the event other vaccines need that condition. While officials say they believe they will have a vaccine by mid-December, the next question is who will get it first. The supply of the vaccine will be limited at first, and how it may be distributed could vary by county within a single state. The goal is for health care workers to get it first; emergency responders, those in long-term care facilities and those who are considered high risk will also be a priority.

You may recall the story we told you about a West Des Moines officer being seriously injured after being hit by a car earlier this month…after a two week stay, officer Jon Kaufman was released from the hospital Saturday. Back on Nov. 8, he was hit by a car on I-35 and suffered multiple skull fractures, a brain bleed and blood clots. The driver who hit him was charged with operating while intoxicated. Kaufman’s wife set up a Venmo fund to gather donations to help with his costs of treatment and recovery. It can be found under “Caring For Kaufman.” The couple is expecting their first child very soon.