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OUR OPINION: Four reasons to be thankful this Thanksgiving holiday

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COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic 3 (copy)

Joanie Rise fills a syringe with Pfizer vaccine during a COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic held by the Siouxland District Health Department at the Tyson Events Center on Feb. 10.

As our nation observes the Thanksgiving holiday this week, members of our editorial board offer four reasons, in no specific order, why we ourselves -- as Siouxlanders and Americans -- are thankful this year.

Receding COVID threat 

At this time last year, medical professionals were urging Americans not to travel for the holiday season, with COVID-19 cases elevated, many employees working from home, numerous public restrictions in place and newly-developed vaccines still weeks away from getting into the first arms.  

In November 2020, over new cases of coronavirus routinely exceeded 100 daily in Woodbury County, with local patients hospitalized for the virus also exceeding triple digits at times. 

After a summer surge brought on by the more infectious delta variant, COVID-19 infections have receded on a local, state and national basis. The most recent report from Siouxland District Health showed new infections in Woodbury County totaled less than 300 for an entire week. About three dozen people were hospitalized with the virus. 

The 14-day positivity rate stood at 10.3 percent last week, less than half the rate recorded a year ago.

Nearly 50 percent of county residents are now fully vaccinated. And, that percentage should continue to grow with the FDA recently approving the vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

While we should remain vigilant in the fight against COVID, we're thankful we have made that much progress in the past year. The improving conditions give us a greater assurance that we can safely gather with small groups of family and friends this holiday. 

Economic strength 

As it continues to recover from the pandemic, the economy in Siouxland remains a bright spot nationally. 

Nebraska's jobless rate of 1.9% in October was the lowest rate in the country, and the lowest since the Cornhusker state started to track the data in 1976. The September jobless rates in South Dakota, 3.8 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively, also were among the nation's lowest, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Metro Sioux City's jobless rate fell to 2.5 percent in September, the lowest among the state's largest cities, according to Iowa Workforce Development. The economic growth is so robust that many employers struggle to fill key, well-paying jobs, due to an acute labor shortage. 

America's farmers 

When sitting down for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, or any meal for that matter, we should all take a moment to remember the individuals who produced the food on our tables.  

Today, the average U.S. farm feeds 155 people annually in our country and abroad. No region of the country appreciates the important role farmers and agri-businesses play in our nation's economy more than we do. In Iowa, agriculture and its related industries pump over $121 billion a year into the state's economy and create 1 out of every 5 jobs in the state, according to the Iowa Farm Bureau.

This past year presented multiple challenges for many farmers, who were waylaid by global trade uncertainties, pandemic-related impacts, drought-like conditions during parts of the growing season and falling prices for livestock in a highly consolidated market. But, as always, they persevered, producing an abundance of food while practicing good stewardship of the land.

Men and women in armed forces

Members of our armed forces - the world's finest - and their families, make countless sacrifices for us. Today, and every day, we should give thanks to our servicemen and women who stand guard, around the clock, over our nation's security and freedoms.

In particular, remember the tens of thousands of service personnel who this Thanksgiving holiday are deployed far from home in dozens of countries across the globe.

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