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Associated Press

KMEG

The number of new coronavirus cases in Iowa in the past seven days surged 51% compared to the previous week, and new COVID-19 hospital admissions also increased along with the number of patients requiring intensive care. The Iowa Department of Public Health reported Wednesday there were 11,588 new positive cases in the past seven days. Another 64 deaths raised the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Iowa to 6,401. Iowa’s seven-day moving average of cases is at 1,487 new cases per day, a level not seen since the middle of last January.

NPM

About 775 evacuees from Afghanistan are expected to settle in Nebraska as part of the first group arriving in the United States.  State department data obtained by The Associated Press detailed how a first wave of 37,000 Afghanistan evacuees will be resettled across the country after they fled from their country when the U.S. ended its long war there and withdrew last month. The Biden administration on Wednesday began notifying governors and state refugee coordinators across the country about how many are slated to be resettled in their states.

KETV

A new watchdog report warns that Nebraska’s prisons face a persistent staffing crisis that has created dangerous conditions, including maximum-security units that are going unstaffed for hours at a time and one incident where a tired employee fell asleep on the job. The Inspector General of the Nebraska Correctional System warns in its annual report that the long-standing prison workforce shortage has become a “mass exodus” as burned-out employees leave their jobs. The independent watchdog agency was created six years ago and reports problems in the prison system to the Legislature.

Lincoln Journal Star

Douglas County Commissioner and former Omaha mayor Mike Boyle died Monday morning following a bout with pneumonia. He was 77. Boyle's daughter, fellow Douglas County Commissioner Maureen Boyle, announced her father's death through a spokeswoman for the county. Boyle had been a fixture in the Nebraska Democratic Party for decades and had served on the board of Nebraska's largest county since 1997. He also was elected mayor of Omaha in 1981 and re-elected to a second term in 1985, but was removed from office in a recall election the following year.

Daily Mail

Thousands of people lined the procession route along Omaha streets to pay tribute to a local man and Marine who died in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. The body of 23-year-old Cpl. Daegan Page was transported Friday afternoon from Eppley Airfield to Braman Mortuary in southwest Omaha. Page was one of 13 U.S. service members killed Aug. 26 in the bombing at the Kabul airport, which also killed at least 169 Afghans. Page was born in Omaha and lived his first five years in Red Oak, Iowa, before moving back to Omaha with his family.

Siouxland News

Iowa will use federal coronavirus relief funds to pay for a $3.7 million national ad campaign that promotes the state as a destination for visitors and workers. The 30-second ad funded by the American Rescue Plan is part of a larger “This Is Iowa” promotional campaign. It will air on cable television, online on social media sites and through streaming services this week. Gov. Kim Reynolds says the ad campaign supports state efforts to attract new residents and train existing workers to fill a growing number of high-demand job openings.

KHGI

Governor Ricketts is voicing his opposition to President Biden's new vaccine mandates. In a statement, Ricketts called the mandates a "stunning violation of personal freedom," and said individuals are responsible for taking charge of their personal health. The president announced an executive order yesterday requiring vaccinations for federal workers and businesses with more than 100 employees. Those who do not get vaccinated will be subject to weekly testing. The governor said he is working with the Attorney General to explore legal options to fight the mandate.

Twitter

Jane Raybould, a Lincoln city council member and former Lancaster County commissioner, has announced her candidacy for an open seat in the Nebraska Legislature. Raybould says she’s running for Legislative District 28, an area of Lincoln neighborhoods just south of downtown. The seat is currently held by state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, a fellow Democrat who is ineligible to run again in 2022 because of term limits. The district is heavily Democratic, even though the Legislature is officially nonpartisan. Her announcement included an endorsement from Pansing Brooks.

Omaha World Herald

No injuries are reported after one of the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium's largest residents escaped from its enclosure.  Officials say Jontu the Indian rhino was found in front of its enclosure on a behind-the-scenes path behind the aviary yesterday afternoon after going through a gate that was not properly locked.  Zookeepers used motor vehicles to barricade the animal, and apples and other tactics to entice it back into its enclosure.  Guests, students and staff were taken to a secure location while the rhino was on the loose.

KOLN

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green is promising changes to help prevent sexual assaults on campus. Green on Wednesday told leaders of the university's student government the changes will include better and mandated training for students and adding a director of education on sexual misconduct to the Center for Advocacy Response & Education. He also said the university is considering adding more mental health support and resources for students. Students have protested since Aug.

Reuters

The number of COVID-19 cases in Nebraska has increased in each of the past ten weeks, and the total nearly doubled over the past two weeks as the highly contagious delta variant of the virus continues to spread. Nebraska reported 5,006 new cases for the week ending Friday, according to an Omaha World-Herald analysis of data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 3,755 the previous week and nearly double the 2,668 cases recorded the week before.

KLKN-TV

Renters across the Omaha metro are no longer protected by the CDC eviction moratorium. The Supreme Court ruled that the CDC does not have the authority to issue an eviction moratorium without congressional approval. There are still millions of dollars in federal rental assistance available through the City of Omaha. Executive Director of  the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless [MACCH] Randy McCoy says the funds will help landlords offer alternatives to eviction.

Public News Service

A Nebraska legislative committee kicked off its effort to redraw the state’s political boundaries, showing early signs of an urban-rural divide as some lawmakers questioned whether rural population declines were as severe as census numbers show. Data presented to the committee confirms that legislative districts in rural, western Nebraska all lost residents. Suburban Omaha and Lincoln posted big gains. One district in the remote Nebraska Panhandle lost 15.5% of its population from 2010 to 2020. A fast-developing Omaha-area district gained 31.1%.

Lincoln Journal Star

Six state senators are asking for more transparency into the sexual assault investigation at a University of Nebraska-Lincoln fraternity house. The group of lawmakers expressed their concern of repeated safety issues at the university in a letter to Chancellor Ronnie Green. The senators warned that University leadership has lost the trust of many students on campus and asked the chancellor to support increased accountability in UNL's Title Nine office. Protesters have gathered this week in front of the university's Phi Gamma Delta house, where the alleged sexual assault took place.

STAT News

Nebraska’s hospitals are even more crowded now than they were at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in November. That prompted Gov. Pete Ricketts to announce a “staffing emergency” Thursday to try to address a severe shortage of health care workers. The state’s hospitals were treating a 3,162 patients as of Wednesday, up from 3,074 on Nov. 20, when the number of known cases was at its all-time high. Most of the recent hospitalizations aren’t virus-related, however. Ricketts says the increase was driven by patients seeking treatment for other medical problems.

Fremont Tribune

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency is getting a new administrator to oversee its day-to-day operations and its response to state and federal emergencies. The agency announced that Plattsmouth City Administrator Ervin Portis will become its next assistant director. Portis will replace Bryan Tuma, who is retiring at the end of September. Portis has served as Plattsmouth’s city administrator since 2007. The Walton native previously worked as a police officer and lieutenant for the Lincoln Police Department and chief of police in Papillion.

The Today Show

Students and staff at Ralston’s middle school and high schools in suburban Omaha are now required to wear masks following new cases of COVID-19 in the district. Ralston Public Schools announced the change Sunday, saying the policy applies to staff members and students from seventh- through 12th grades. Masking will be required through Sept. 16, when district officials will review the policy. Masks will be available at the schools for students who do not have one. Superintendent Mark Adler says the decision was made after three cases were identified in one classroom at the secondary level.

KMEG

Labor shortages that have plagued businesses across the country have also put the squeeze on Nebraska's state parks. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that has led officials to make the unprecedented move to cut hours and services at parks across the state. State parks administrator Jim Swenson says parks were already short-staffed this summer, operating with only an estimated 70% of their normal workforce. Now, with many seasonal workers headed back to school, parks are more short-staffed than ever.

USA Today

 Law enforcement agencies across Nebraska are warning residents of an increased risk following a spate of drug overdose deaths in the state. The Omaha and Lincoln police departments, along with the Nebraska State Patrol and federal Drug Enforcement Administration have issued a joint news release saying there have been 21 overdoses — eight resulting in death — in Lincoln and Omaha over a six-day span starting Aug. 10. Officials say the majority of the overdoes involved the use of cocaine that has been laced with the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.

News Channel Nebraska

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents has rejected an anti-critical race theory resolution. The 5-3 vote on Friday followed about three hours of public comment from students, faculty and others. The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that Regent Jim Pillen, a Republican candidate for governor, introduced the resolution objecting to “any imposition of critical race theory” in academic curriculum in July. Critical race theory, a framework for examining the effects race and racism have on institutions, both historically and today, has become a flashpoint in the culture wars.

KETV

The city of Omaha is expected to apply for federal disaster aid following intense flash flooding over the weekend that collapsed some sewers and sent floodwaters into businesses and homes. The Omaha World-Herald reports that city officials have been tracking growing expenses from the storm damage and expect to meet the threshold to apply for federal aid. Officials have not yet released other details about the expected disaster declaration.

fortine.com

The number of virus cases and hospitalizations across Nebraska has steadily increased in recent weeks as the highly contagious delta variant spreads, following the pattern of other states with relatively low vaccination rates. Nebraska said Wednesday that 2,575 new virus cases were reported in the past week, which is up from 1,976 the week before and more than 10 times higher than the 253 cases a week the state was reporting in late June when officials lifted the last of Nebraska’s remaining virus-related restrictions.

Nebraska Legislature

A Nebraska state senator and former city council member from Bellevue is weighing a bid for governor. Sen. Carol Blood unveiled a new campaign website Monday where she’s taking donations and describing herself as a level-headed public servant with a record of governing. If she commits to running, Blood would be the first Democratic candidate to declare a bid for governor. She’s seeking to replace Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is term-limited, in a state dominated by the GOP.

Omaha World Herald

Governor Pete Ricketts is asking the public to vote against Critical Race Theory classes at the University of Nebraska. In a post on his website last night, the governor compared Critical Race Theory to a reinvented version of Communism.  Advocates of CRT say the idea is based on a history of white supremacy and how it is still impacting today's society and institutions. The vote will take place Friday at the university. Meanwhile, Former Gov.

KFOR

An unusual influx of cash will allow Lancaster County lower its property tax levy, officials said. The county has more more money than usual thanks to federal pandemic aid, a large carry-over of money from this year’s budget and a total revaluation of property in the county. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that most of that money won’t be used in the county’s $128.5 million general fund budget, which is supported by property taxes, but officials still plan to lower the tax levy by 1 cent per $100 of valuation. The general fund budget will increase by about $5.1 million.

The Reader

Thousands of Nebraskans who are behind on their rent could face eviction now that the federal ban on evictions expired as of Saturday. Nebraska has dedicated $200 million from the coronavirus aid package Congress passed in December to helping people pay outstanding rent and utility bills, but so far only about $24.6 million has been distributed. Scott Mertz, an attorney with Legal Aid of Nebraska, says the number of evictions is expected to surge following the end of the moratorium, but it’s not clear by how much.

Nebraska Dept. of Education

An attempt to include gender identity lessons in Nebraska’s public school curriculum was largely scrapped after an uproar from conservatives, including top state officials, who argued that the topics weren’t appropriate for children. The Nebraska Department of Education announced that it had stricken most of the proposed standards in a new draft released Thursday. The move came after state education officials faced intense criticism from many parents, school boards, state lawmakers and Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, who held town hall events to blast the proposal.

KPTM

Wildfires in Canada and the western United States may affect the air quality in Nebraska over the next couple of days.  The Department of Environment and Energy monitors the smoke levels and says there are advisories possible for moderate to unhealthy categories today through August 1st.  There are also times when the unhealthy or red category will apply.  People with breathing difficulties or heart issues may want to limit their time outdoors.

Omaha World Herald

The family of a white Nebraska bar owner who killed himself after being charged in the fatal shooting of a Black man during 2020 protests over racial injustice is suing local prosecutors, saying their comments led to his suicide. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the parents of Jake Gardner sued the Douglas County Attorney's Office, its top prosecutor and a special prosecutor in federal court on Monday.

Omaha World Herald

The family of a white Nebraska bar owner who killed himself after being charged in the fatal shooting of a Black man during 2020 protests over racial injustice is suing local prosecutors, saying their comments led to his suicide. The Omaha World-Herald reports that the parents of Jake Gardner sued the Douglas County Attorney's Office, its top prosecutor and a special prosecutor in federal court on Monday.

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