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Maple Heights partners with CVS to vaccinate residents and staff

One local long-term care facility has taken advantage of a government contract with CVS and Walgreens pharmacies to help long term care facilities expedite vaccinations of their patients and staff members.

Maple Heights Nursing & Rehabilitation Center joined in the program, and received the first wave of Pfizer vaccines late last month. According to Maple Heights Administrator Denise Wolney, a CVS pharmacy team was on site on Dec. 28 to administer the first of two rounds of the vaccine, with the second dose scheduled for Jan. 18.

Wolney and Lori Rieger, DON, were the first employees to take the vaccine.

“We are pleased to be one of the first long term care facilities in the state,” said Wolney. “This generation of elders that we serve have been through epidemics in the past, and most were eager to take the vaccine.”

Wolney is confident that being in the front of the line for vaccines will help to move life a little closer to back to normal for residents.

“We hope we are one step closer in reducing visitation restrictions,” said the Administrator.

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COVID takes front and center for 2020

The sun has set on 2020, and the relief over an arbitrary date on the calendar may have never been greater.

Work, sports, school and nearly every other aspect of daily life was put on hold early on in 2020, as the Coronavirus pandemic took nearly 2 million lives across the world and branded the year as a symbol of global suffering and dissension. Despite the year highlighting division in local communities, the country and the entire world, a renewed sense of hope seems to permeate the early days of 2021, as if a collective sigh of relief rang in the new year.

As 2019 wore down, reports of a dangerous new virus in Wuhan, China had been garnering national attention for months, though public concern was not yet piqued. The first case of COVID-19 turned up in the U.S. on Jan. 20, with the White House forming a Coronavirus Task Force just nine days later. By early February, cases were being reported across the country, and early rumblings of a potential medical equipment shortage began to surface.

A month later, as many states began to announce their first cases of the virus, California declared a state of emergency. Misinformation and incorrect information spread rapidly as much of the country wondered if this was another Bird Flu or something more serious. On March 7, Kansas confirmed its first COVID-19 case, and just days later, the NBA suspended their season. Shortly after that, major universities began to shut down in-person learning, with much of the nation following suit. As the nation’s total cases eclipsed 2,000 on March 11, President Donald Trump declared the pandemic a national emergency.

The number of cases in United States ballooned to 164,000 by the end of the March, as states began to issue stay-at-home orders and shut down schools. Kansas became the 22nd state to declare such an order on March 30, just three days after the government passed the CARES Act to support American workers, families and small businesses. The economy and the regular flow of American life ground to a near halt. The virus continued to spread across the country, surpassing the million mark by the end of April. By early May, many states were extending their stay-at-home orders, while a few began to re-open their states in phases. Mask mandates were issued, though rarely enforced.

The rate of increase in cases slowed over the early summer months, though not to the degree predicted by experts. Optimistic that the worst was behind us, the CDC suggested reopening schools, and much of the economy was operational again, though to varying degrees. By mid-July, numbers were back on the rise, as the U.S. would record the highest single-day hike in cases in the world. Social justice issues and a contentious Presidential election shifted the national focus, but numbers consistently climbed through the early fall, and by November, over a million new cases were reported weekly. In December, with several variants of a Coronavirus vaccine nearing approval, a secondary strand of COVID-19 that originated in the United Kingdom was found in patients in Colorado, California and Florida.

As 2020 concluded, a limited supply of the Pfizer vaccine was shipped to hospitals around the country, with front line medical workers receiving the first doses. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced in early January that the state had surpassed its goal of performing over one million tests before the end of the year. To date, Kansas has recorded 234,390 positive cases of COVID-19, with 2,897 deaths. The United States reports over 21 million cases and nearly 360,000 deaths.

The prognosis for 2021 appears more positive, as more and more vaccines will roll out throughout the early months of the year, as those most vulnerable — the elderly and healthcare workers — are finally gaining a layer of protection. A certain amount of trepidation lingers, as the future seems less certain than it did 365 days ago — the term “new normal” is often muttered and almost always followed by a question mark.

The outcome of the new year will largely rest with how we respond as a nation, whether division and dissent will trump hope and compassion, or whether we respond as our country so often has in times of great loss, by coming together and lifting each other up to face an uncertain future as a united front.

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Missouri, Kansas delegations react to Capitol breach; Biden win certified

On a violent day on Capitol Hill Wednesday during which a pro-Trump mob stormed past police officers into the legislative chambers of the nation’s capital, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt placed at least some of the blame on the president.

“I think it was a tragic day and he (President Trump) was part of it,” Blunt told FOX News.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were certified by Congress to be president-elect and vice president-elect early Thursday morning.

A measure to throw out Arizona’s Electoral College votes, certified for Biden, failed overwhelming in the Senate 93-6. Blunt and Jerry Moran (R-Kan) voted to certify the results.

Some in Washington, D.C. also blamed Blunt’s fellow Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley for the violence. Hawley was the first in that chamber to announce he’d object to Electoral College votes in Pennsylvania. During a late night floor speech, Hawley indicated he would still object to Pennsylvania’s votes even as fellow Republican Senators backed off their intention to object because of the violence.

Hawley voted to sustain the objection to Arizona’s Electoral College votes, as did Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan).

Shortly after the Senate and House began debating an objection to Arizona’s Electoral College votes, members of the mob entered the Capitol complex, leading to a lockdown. A congressional staffer told News-Press NOW the incident was “very tense.”

One woman shot during the violence at the capitol complex later died. House and Senate members were whisked from their respective legislative floors, and those who were in their offices had to shelter in place before being evacuated. No members of Congress were apparently harmed.

“The violence and lawlessness happening at the United States Capitol right now is completely unacceptable and un-American,” Missouri Republican Rep. Sam Graves said in a statement. “This is not what democracy looks like.”

Graves was one member of Congress who agreed to object to Electoral College votes, alongside Hawley. Democrats blamed those congress members for provoking violence by their stance alongside the president.

Other area legislators, including Marshall (R-Kan) and Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-Kan) also indicated they would object to at least some Electoral College votes prior to Wednesday’s security breach.

Hawley released a statement after the mob entered the Capitol building, but he did not address his proposed objection or the criticism from fellow legislators.

“Thank you to the brave law enforcement officials who have put their lives on the line,” Hawley said in the statement. “The violence must end, those who attacked police and broke the law must be prosecuted and Congress must get back to work and finish its job.”

The leader of Missouri’s Democratic party leveled harsh criticism at Hawley.

“(Hawley) has aided and abetted an attack on our democracy,” Michael Butler, the chairman of the Missouri Democratic party, said in a statement. “Josh Hawley does not deserve to be called a U.S. senator.”

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo), said she would introduce a resolution to expel Republican members who objected to certifying the election results from the House.

Tim Garrison, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said on Twitter that “domestic enemies” were responsible for the riot. Garrison was appointed during the Trump administration.

“If you ever wanted to know what domestic enemies of the Constitution look like, today you have several thousand examples,” Garrison said.

Moran (R-Kan) also released a statement condemning the violence.

“It is completely unacceptable and unpatriotic,” Moran said in a statement. “This is a sad day for our nation and it is an unwelcome reminder that our democracy is fragile.”

Marshall didn’t address his proposed objection in a statement, but also condemned the mob.

“America needs to know we won’t be deterred by violence,” he said.

Both chambers of Congress reconvened just after 7 p.m. Wednesday. Both Democratic and Republican leaders vowed to finish the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory that night.

In a statement after returning to the chamber Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky,) called those who broke into the Capitol building “thugs.”

“Criminal behavior will never dominate the United States Congress,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.

Commission says goodbye to Hull, Williams

(Editor’s Note: As confirmed by City Administrator Mike Nichols, the City’s mask mandate is in affect until rescinded and the city facilities remain closed.)

Monday night’s meeting of the Hiawatha City Commission was the last for Commissioners Toni Hull and Dustin Williams, and the group took the opportunity to send their best wishes to the departing commissioners as newly elected officials will start their duty this month.

Commissioners Becky Shamburg and David Middendorf, as well as Mayor Bill Collins all thanked Hull and Williams for their time and their service. Hull was defeated by Brian Shefferd and Williams defeated by Evans Woehlecke in the November primary.

Commissioner Williams thanked the commission and city members for his four years in service. Commissioner Hull expressed gratitude for those she has worked with, as well as for the residents of Hiawatha, saying that she hopes she has done justice to the position.

The seven-year city representative also took a brief moment of silence for those from the community who have passed away due to COVID-19.

The group voted to approve the presented list for the Land Bank Board, which included Luke Moore of HFED, Troy Boswell, Leon Wissman and Gene Hillyer. Commissioner Middendorf was then voted onto the Land Bank Board as the City Commission representative.

John Broberg, CEO of the Hiawatha Community Hospital was present to give an update. Broberg said that much of the staff has been vaccinated against COVID-19, and they hope to have a total of 80 percent of the staff vaccinated soon. Among other notes, Broberg said that recruitment has been going well, with several interviews lined up to fill positions in 2021.

The commission voted to solicit bids for cement for 2021, a request to advertise for the open Utility Clerk position, and approved a request to seek bids for a new pickup for the Parks and Recreation Department. Also approved was a motion to move the next Commission meeting to Tuesday, Jan. 19 with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on that Monday.

In other business, the commission approved the Consent Agenda, which included $734.67 in utility refunds, a payment to Crawford, Murphy and Tilly in amount of $355.00 and a cereal malt license for Maple Lanes.

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First baby of 2021 born at HCH

Hiawatha Community Hospital is proud to welcome the first baby of the New Year.

Isabella Faith was born on Friday, Jan. 1, weighing 8lbs 3.5oz, to Sarah Hershberger.

Chelsea James, OB Nurse Manager at HCH, said the family has been provided a gift basket filled with many baby items and gift certificates that were generously donated by community businesses and the staff of the labor and delivery team.

She said Hiawatha Community Hospital wants to sincerely thank the following businesses that donated: Tice Drug, Kex RX, Just For You Gifts, The Shirt Shack, Hiawatha Community Hospital Gift shop, The Bread Bowl, Dollar General, and Mainstreet Flower Shoppe.

“Thank you so much for your donations,” James said. “Hiawatha Community Hospital Labor and Delivery unit is proud to serve this community and all surrounding communities for their labor and delivery needs. We want to wish the Hershberger family all the best!”