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Muscatine's Zoey Long drives the baseline during the first half of Tuesday's game against Pleasant Valley in Muscatine.

IDPH releases statewide COVID-19 vaccination numbers, additional information on vaccines
  • Updated

MUSCATINE — The Iowa Department of Public Health began releasing data on the progress of the COVID-19 vaccination efforts in each county.

According to Muscatine County Department of Public Health Director Christy Roby Williams, these updates can be found on under the “Vaccine Administration” tab, and will be published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the foreseeable future.

As of Monday, Jan. 11, there have been 96,686 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered in Iowa, covering 91,501 Iowa residents. Of these residents, 5,652 Iowans have received both doses needed while the rest have only received one dose so far. In Muscatine County, there have been 792 doses administered by the county and 601 doses administered by the vaccine provider.

Muscatine County has had 3,758 positive cases total since the beginning of the pandemic. There are 420 cases still active in the county, with 3,281 having recovered from the virus and 75 residents dying from COVID-19.

There are currently no outbreaks at long-term care facilities within the county, while public schools have a 16% positive case analysis. Bed availability at UnityPoint - Trinity Muscatine has risen to 42%, or five beds available in acute care/surgery, with the ICU only having 40% availability, or two beds available.

As stated earlier by Muscatine County Public Health, each phase of the vaccine distribution plan must be completed before moving onto the next one. It is not currently known the exact date that Phase 1B, which will likely focus on residents 75 years or older, frontline essential workers and lawmakers and their staff, will begin.

Further details will be released about the upcoming 1B and 1C phases within the next few weeks. Updates on vaccine distribution will still be released through the Muscatine County website, Public health’s Facebook page, the Trinity Muscatine Public Health website, and media such as the Muscatine Journal.

Community members are unable to sign up for the vaccine in advance at this time, they must wait until a vaccine distributor reaches out to them. Pregnant or nursing women will be allowed to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, if they wish.

The state advises those who have gotten COVID-19 to get the vaccine. According to current CDC guidance, it states that “current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection.” Patients can get the vaccine once they are out of isolation in order to assure further protection after that 90-day period is over.

For more information, visit the IDPH website or call Muscatine County Public Health at 563-263-0122.

School district reports security breach at billing company
  • Updated

MUSCATINE — Last week, the Muscatine Community School District issued more information on reports there was a possible security breach involving a billing service used by the school. While the district is not aware of any actual misuse of information that may have been compromised, it wants the community to know of the incident.

According to a press release from the district, Timberline Billing Services LLC noticed suspicious activity on its network on March 5, 2020. The company launched an investigation to determine the nature and scope of the activity. It was determined that the network had been hacked by unknown subjects between Feb. 12 and March 4, 2020, and that certain information had been removed. The district first reported the issue on Oct. 30, 2020. 

The investigators were unable to determine which specific information was actually removed. After a review of all the files that may have been compromised, it was determined that protected health information and personal information relating to students was present in files that may have been compromised.

“Muscatine Community School District takes the security of student information very seriously,” the release said. “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this incident may have caused.”

Timberline provides Medicaid reimbursement billing information to 190 school districts in Iowa. Including the Muscatine Community School District. The company notified the district in September 2020 of the incident.

According to the information the district received from Timberline, the investigation determined information that may have been involved during the breach may have included names and social security numbers, Medicaid ID numbers, billing or claim information, date of birth, medical record numbers, support service codes and identification numbers and treatment information.

In an earlier release last October, the district reported the reason for the delay in reporting the incident is that Timberline is responsible for 190 school districts and investigating all the data the company took time.

As a result of the incident, Timberline is working to identify potentially impacted people. The incident has been reported to law enforcement and Timberline is taking steps to enhance the security of its systems. The release said that while the business is unaware of any misuse of information, it is offering affected students 12 months of minor identity monitoring through Experian at no cost.

Timberline has set up a dedicated assistance line for people seeking additional information regarding the incident. People may call (844) 439-7669 toll free 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. central time Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

House destroyed by fire in Wapello Sunday evening

WAPELLO — Wapello Fire and Rescue reports that the occupant of a one-and-a-half story house that caught fire Sunday evening was awakened by a smoke detector and was able to escape a fire that destroyed the house.

According to a press release from the department, at 7:03 p.m. Sunday the department was dispatched to reports of a bedroom on fire at a residence at 426 S. Main St. The Morning Sun Fire Department was immediately requested for mutual aid due to the nature of the call.

On arrival, fire crews found heavy smoke coming from nearly every window in the home. A Wapello police officer reported there had been several explosions from firearm ammunition in the home. Additional mutual aid was requested from Grandview Fire Department.

An initial fire attack was made from outside the home. The fire was quickly knocked down and firefighters were able to enter the structure to extinguish the remaining flames. The department reports that icy road conditions slowed the response, but the winter weather had minimal impact on the firefighting efforts.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The house and contents are a total loss and the estimated value of the damage is not available. The American Red Cross was asked to assist the owner. There were no firefighter injuries and no damage to nearby structures.

In all, 14 Wapello firefighters, nine Morning Sun firefighters and six Grandview firefighters responded to the scene. Also assisting were the Wapello Community Ambulance, Wapello Police Department, Louisa County Sheriff’s office, City of Wapello Public Works and Alliant Energy.

Cobi Miller, the owner of the house, was reportedly asleep inside the residence when he heard a smoke detector going off and discovered a large fire in the bedroom adjacent to where he had been sleeping. He was able to escape uninjured.

“This fire could have had a much more tragic ending if not for the presence of a working smoke detector,” the release said. “The smoke detector woke up the occupant and provided him the precious time necessary to escape the blaze. Within seconds of the discovery of this fire, it developed to a level that certainly would have been fatal for anyone inside. This message should serve as a reminder to check your smoke detectors monthly for proper operation. Smoke detectors save lives.”

House races to oust Trump
  • Updated

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House rushed ahead Tuesday toward impeaching President Donald Trump for the deadly Capitol attack, taking time only to try to persuade his vice president to push him out first. Trump showed no remorse, blaming impeachment itself for the "tremendous anger" in America.

Already scheduled to leave office next week, Trump is on the verge of becoming the only president in history to be twice impeached. His incendiary rhetoric at a rally ahead of the Capitol uprising is now in the impeachment charge against him, even as the falsehoods he spread about election fraud are still being championed by some Republicans.

The House voted Tuesday night on a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove Trump with a Cabinet vote and “declare what is obvious to a horrified Nation: That the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office.”

Pence said he would not do so in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

He said that it would not be in the best interest of the nation or consistent with the Constitution and that it was "time to unite our country as we prepare to inaugurate President-elect Joe Biden."

With Pence's agreement to invoke the 25th Amendment ruled out, the House will move swiftly to impeachment on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, four Republican lawmakers, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, announced they would vote to impeach Trump on Wednesday, cleaving the Republican leadership, and the party itself.

"The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack," said Cheney in a statement. "There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."

The New York Times reported Tuesday that influential Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks Trump committed an impeachable offense and is glad Democrats are moving against him.

As lawmakers reconvened at the Capitol for the first time since the bloody siege, they were bracing for more violence ahead of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, Jan. 20.

"All of us have to do some soul searching," said Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, imploring other Republicans to join.

Trump, meanwhile, warned the lawmakers off impeachment and suggested it was the drive to oust him that was dividing the country.

"To continue on this path, I think it's causing tremendous danger to our country, and it's causing tremendous anger," Trump said.

In his first remarks to reporters since last week's violence, the outgoing president offered no condolences for those dead or injured, only saying, "I want no violence."

Trump faces a single charge — "incitement of insurrection" — in the impeachment resolution after the most serious and deadly domestic incursion at the Capitol in the nation's history.

A handful of other House Republicans could join in the impeachment vote, but it's not clear there would be a two-thirds vote needed to convict from the narrowly divided Senate, though some Republicans say it's time for Trump to resign.

The unprecedented events, with just over a week remaining in Trump's term, are unfolding in a nation bracing for more unrest. The FBI has warned ominously of potential armed protests in Washington and many states by Trump loyalists ahead of Biden's inauguration and Capitol Police warned lawmakers to be on alert. The inauguration ceremony on the west steps of the Capitol will be off limits to the public.

Lawmakers were required to pass through metal detectors to enter the House chamber, not far from where Capitol police, guns drawn, had barricaded the door against the rioters. Some Republican lawmakers complained about it.

A Capitol police officer died from injuries suffered in the riot, and police shot a woman during the violence. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies.

In the Senate, Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania joined GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska over the weekend in calling for Trump to "go away as soon as possible."

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, did not go that far, but on Tuesday called on Trump to address the nation and explicitly urge his supporters to refrain from further violence. If not, he said, Trump "will bear responsibility."

No member of the Cabinet has publicly called for Trump to be removed from office through the 25th Amendment.

Biden has said it's important to ensure that the "folks who engaged in sedition and threatening the lives, defacing public property, caused great damage — that they be held accountable."

Fending off concerns that an impeachment trial would bog down Biden's first days in office, the president-elect encouraged senators to divide their time between taking taking up his priorities of confirming his nominees and approving COVID relief while also conducting the trial.