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More than 110M COVID vaccines sent to 60 countries, US says

By ZEKE MILLER and DARLENE SUPERVILLE

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. has donated and shipped more than 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 60 countries, ranging from Afghanistan to Zambia, the White House announced Tuesday.

President Joe Biden was expected to discuss that milestone and more later Tuesday in remarks updating the public on the U.S. strategy to slow the spread of coronavirus abroad.

The announcement comes amid a rise in infections in the U.S., fueled by the highly contagious delta strain of the virus, which led U.S. public health officials last week to recommend that people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 resume wearing face coverings in some public indoor settings.

Biden has promised that the U.S. will be the “arsenal of vaccines” for the world, and it has shipped the most vaccines abroad of any donor nation.

But while notable, the 110 million doses the U.S. has donated largely through a global vaccine program known as COVAX represent a fraction of what is needed worldwide.

The White House said in a statement Tuesday that U.S. at the end of August will begin shipping 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccine that it has pledged to 100 low-income countries by June 2022.

The 110 million donated doses came from U.S. surplus vaccine stock as the pace of domestic vaccinations slowed amid widespread vaccine hesitancy in the country.

Roughly 90 million eligible Americans aged 12 and over have yet to receive one dose of vaccine.

Biden had pledged to ship more than 80 million doses overseas by the end of June, but had only been able to share a fraction of that due to logistical and regulatory hurdles in recipient countries.

The pace of shipments picked up significantly through July.

Under Biden’s sharing plan, about 75% of U.S. doses are shared through COVAX, which aims to help lower- and middle-income nations, with the balance being sent to U.S. partners and allies.

The White House insists that nothing is being sought in return for the shots, contrasting its approach to Russia and China, which it alleges have used access to their domestically produced vaccines as a tool of geopolitical leverage.

Monday Oskaloosa City Council meeting

Monday night (8/2), the Oskaloosa City Council voted to allow limited consumption and open containers of alcohol in a second alley downtown.  This would be in the alley between Taso’s Restaurant and Hunter’s on High Avenue West.  The idea is to create a place similar to The Alley that exists on Market Street.  The new alley would be known as The Trolley Stop Alley.

Brown sentenced for his role in a Fairfield man’s death

An Ottumwa man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for his part in the death of a Fairfield man last summer.  Prosecutors say 59-year-old William Brown took a syringe filled with meth, Alka Seltzer and liquid and injected it into Dustin Canaday on July 31 of last year.  Canaday then became violently ill and collapsed on the bathroom floor.  EMTs were not able to save his life.  Brown was sentenced to ten years for dealing meth and five years for manslaughter—with those sentences running consecutively.

No new trial for Cristhian Bahena Rivera

The man convicted of murdering Mollie Tibbetts in 2018 as she went for a run in Brooklyn will not get a new trial and is scheduled to be sentenced to life in prison.

Attorneys for Cristhian Bahena Rivera said in July that they’d heard from someone who claimed another man had confessed to the crime. Judge Joel Yates said that confession was significantly at odds with the account Bahena gave during his trial. Bahena testified two masked men forced him to participate in the crime and it was one of them who killed Tibbetts. At a hearing last month, Bahena’s attorney’s also sought to link Tibbett’s murder to an alleged sex trafficking ring and two other missing person cases. The judge, in his ruling, said those arguments were not convincing. Bahena’s sentencing is now scheduled for August 30.  His first degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Evictions expected to spike as pandemic moratorium ends

By MICHAEL CASEY

BOSTON (AP) — Evictions, which have mostly been on pause during the pandemic, were expected to ramp up Monday after the Biden administration allowed the federal moratorium to expire over the weekend and Congress was unable to do anything to extend it.

Housing advocates fear the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium could result in millions of people being evicted. But most expect the wave of evictions to build slowly over the coming weeks and months as the bureaucracy of removing people from their homes restarts.

On Sunday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leaders called on the Biden administration to immediately extend the moratorium, calling it a “moral imperative” to prevent Americans from being put out of their homes during a COVID-19 surge.

The Biden administration announced Thursday it would allow the ban to expire, arguing its hands were tied after the U.S. Supreme Court signaled the measure had to end.

“Struggling renters are now facing a health crisis and an eviction crisis,” said Alicia Mazzara, a senior research analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Without the CDC’s moratorium, millions of people are at risk of being evicted or becoming homeless, increasing their exposure to COVID just as cases are rising across the country. The effects will fall heavily on people of color, particularly Black and Latino communities, who face greater risk of eviction and more barriers to vaccination.”

More than 15 million people live in households that owe as much as $20 billion to their landlords, according to the Aspen Institute. As of July 5, roughly 3.6 million people in the U.S. said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey.

Parts of the South and other regions with weaker tenant protections will likely see the largest spikes and communities of color where vaccination rates are sometimes lower will be hit hardest. But advocates say this crisis is likely to have a wider impact than pre-pandemic evictions.

The Biden administration had hoped that historic amounts of rental assistance allocated by Congress in December and March would help avert an eviction crisis. But the distribution has been painfully slow. Only about $3 billion of the first tranche of $25 billion had been distributed through June by states and localities. Another $21.5 billion will go to the states.

Ashley Phonsyry, 22, who will be in court Thursday for an eviction hearing after falling several thousands dollars behind on her Fayetteville, Arkansas, two-bedroom apartment, said her landlord refused to take rental assistance. She left her job after being hurt in a domestic violence incident and suffering from depression and anxiety. The eviction hearing is a day after her domestic violence case goes to court.

“It frustrates me and scares me,” she said of being evicted. “I’m trying so hard to make it right and it doesn’t seem like it’s enough.”

Around the country, courts, legal advocates and law enforcement agencies are gearing up for evictions to return to pre-pandemic levels, a time when 3.7 million people were displaced from their homes every year, or seven every minute, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.

In St. Louis, where the sheriff’s office handles court-ordered evictions, Sheriff Vernon Betts said 126 evictions had been ordered pending the end of the moratorium. His office plans to enforce about 30 evictions per day starting Aug. 9.

Betts knows there will be hundreds of additional orders soon. He’s already been contacted by countless landlords who haven’t yet filed for eviction, but plan to. And he expected to increase his staffing.

“What we’re planning on doing is tripling our two-man team,” he said. “Right off the bat we want to clean up that 126 evictions.”

Sgt. William Brown, who leads the evictions unit for the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, expects many evictions to follow the end of the moratorium. He rattled off statistics that showed the steep decline in evictions since the pandemic began: nearly 4,000 in 2018 and 2019, then a plunge to about 1,900 in 2020.

“I think that once evictions are there fully, there’s no more moratorium in place, it’s going to get really bad,” he said.

“It’s the most challenging position that I’ve ever been in, because at the end of the day I have an empathy and sympathy. I’m required by state statute to execute this,” he said. “You have to feel for these people … watching small kids go through this, this entire process.”

Lee Camp, an attorney with the St. Louis legal group ArchCity Defenders, said the vast majority of tenants facing eviction don’t have lawyers, often because they can’t afford them. Meanwhile, he said, eviction cases move through the courts quickly in Missouri, often in a matter of weeks.

“The scales of justice are just at this incredible imbalance,” Camp said.

In Wisconsin, Heiner Giese, legal counsel for the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin, said his trade association for rental property owners in the Milwaukee area has been “very strong in urging our members and all landlords not to evict.”

“I pretty strongly believe from the feedback we get from our members in the Milwaukee area … there will not be this giant tsunami of (evictions),” Giese said.

Still, Colleen Foley, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, said she “certainly” expects an uptick. She said 161 evictions were filed last week, a significant increase from prior weeks where filings tended to hover around 100 to 120.

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Associated Press writers Jim Salter in St. Louis and Doug Glass in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

Boil order in effect for Ottumwa’s south side

A boil order remains in effect for Ottumwa’s south side after a water main break Saturday (7/31).  Ottumwa Water Works tells the No Coast Network that around 7:20 Saturday night, a large transmission main broke on Church Street.  That caused a large area of Ottumwa south of the Des Moines River to experience very low water pressure.  When water pressure is low, unhealthy bacteria can get into the drinking water.  It’s recommended that you boil water for one minute, let it cool and then use it for drinking, food preparation or brushing your teeth.  The boil order is expected to last through at least Tuesday (8/3).

Air Quality Alert in Iowa

There’s an Air Quality Alert for the entire state of Iowa until noon Monday (8/2).  Smoke from Canadian wildfires moved into Iowa last Thursday and is still in the Hawkeye State.  Sensitive groups such as people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should limit the amount of time they are outdoors until the air quality improves.

Missing Ottumwa woman found

The body of a missing Ottumwa woman has been found and police are investigating her death as suspicious.  On Saturday (7/31), Ottumwa Police were told that 60-year-old Helen Showalter took off walking from a vehicle near Garrison Rock Park.  Around 12:30 Sunday afternoon (8/1), a person walking near the Cliffland Boat Ramp spotted a body in the Des Moines River that turned out to be Showalter.  An autopsy will be conducted to find out the cause of Showalter’s death.  No arrests have been made at this time.

CDC team: ‘War has changed’ as delta variant dangers emerge

By LINDSEY TANNER

AP – New evidence showing the delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox and may be more dangerous than other versions has prompted U.S. health officials to consider changing advice on how the nation fights the coronavirus, internal documents show.

Recommending masks for everyone and requiring vaccines for doctors and other health workers are among measures the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering, according to internal documents obtained by the Washington Post.

The documents appear to be talking points for CDC staff to use in explaining the dangers of the delta variant and “breakthrough″ infections that can occur after vaccination. Noted under communications: “Acknowledge the war has changed”

In recommending that vaccinated people resuming wearing masks indoors in virus hot spots, the CDC this week said that new evidence shows that breakthrough infections may be as transmissible as those in unvaccinated people. They cited a large recent outbreak among vaccinated individuals in the Cape Cod town of Provincetown, Massachusetts, among others, for the change.

As the documents note, COVID-19 vaccines are still highly effective at preventing serious illness and death. The CDC has always expected some breakthrough infections but has struggled with how to explain them to the public.

The documents point out that the delta variant, first detected in India, causes infections that are more contagious than the common cold, flu, smallpox and Ebola virus, and is as infectious as highly contagious chickenpox.

The internal documents also cite studies from Canada, Singapore and Scotland showing that the delta variant may poses a greater risk for hospitalization, intensive care treatment and death than the alpha variant, first detected in the United Kingdom.

Since January, people who got infected after vaccination make up an increasing portion of hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths among COVID-19 patients, according to the documents. That trend coincides with the spread of the delta variant.

But the CDC emphasizes that breakthrough infections are still uncommon.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Vancenbrock gets 20 years for death of Oskaloosa woman

Twenty years in prison.  That’s the sentence an Oskaloosa man has received for distribution of meth resulting in death.  28-year-old Cody James Vancenbrock was sentenced Thursday (7/29) for his role in the August 2019 death of Ashley Shafer of Oskaloosa.  Prosecutors say Vancenbrock intentionally injected meth into Shafer’s arm in an Oskaloosa apartment.  After she died, Vancenbrock and another person carried Shafer’s body out of the apartment and dumped her body into the Skunk River in rural Mahaska County.  Shafer’s body was discovered two days later.  When he’s out of prison, Vancenbrock will have to pay restitution, serve five years of supervised release and pay $100 to the Crime Victims Fund.

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