Jun 10, 2021

Axios Des Moines

Hi, Des Moines. It's Thursday.

  • 🔥 You sure look hot today. High of 91°.

⚡ Situational awareness: Polk County Attorney John Sarcone won’t seek re-election in 2022, he told KCCI. He’s served in the role for 30 years.

Today's Smart Brevity count is 889 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: 33K vaccine doses are expiring
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Data: CDC; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Around 33,000 Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine doses will expire in Iowa this month, state health officials told us yesterday.

Why it matters: Less than half of our state is vaccinated. It would be an unsettling waste if they go unused.

By the numbers: COVID vaccine demand has plummeted in recent weeks.

  • Nearly 51,500 doses were given April 8, the peak of statewide vaccination, according to IDPH data.
  • Fewer than 3,500 were administered in recent days, a more than 90% drop.

Details: J&J is a one-dose vaccine and can be stored at normal refrigeration temps for up to three months.

  • Pfizer and Moderna's two-dose vaccines have colder storage requirements, but can be stored twice as long.

The big picture: More than 10.1 million doses of J&J have been delivered nationally but not administered, according to CDC data.

  • Multiple states are sounding alarm that they will expire: Ohio has 200K doses in danger; Arkansas has 60K.

What they're saying: Iowa announced a new vaccine awareness campaign this week and is advocating for the use of the soon-to-expire doses.

  • "Throughout the COVID-19 vaccine campaign, IDPH has provided consultation and education to ensure the use of every available dose," IDPH spokesperson Sarah Ekstrand told Jason yesterday.

Worthy of your time: If you’re still unvaxxed, check here to find where you can get your shot nearby.

2. GOP group says Indianola training is anti-white

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Warren County Republican Party wants the city of Indianola to stop participating in an "equity challenge" that it claims teaches anti-white bias, according to the Des Moines Register.

  • The 21-day equity challenge promoted by United Way of Central Iowa educates participants on race, religion, gender, LGBTQ issues, bias and housing inequality.
  • It also examines the history and influence of racism and how it's shaped people's lives, the Register reports. It's voluntary for employees but mandatory for department heads.

Why it matters: More organizations are undergoing diversity and implicit bias training in light of the Black Lives Matter movement which gained momentum last summer.

  • But some conservatives say lessons that teach how people or the U.S. are inherently biased are actually discriminatory towards white people.

What they're saying: County co-chair Stephen Kirby, who's written books that some claim promote hatred toward Muslims, says the program is racist because it teaches that white supremacy still has a stronghold over our culture and country.

The other side: Indianola City Manager Ryan Waller said the challenge doesn't have anti-white rhetoric and is meant to educate city employees in areas they may have gaps in, such as the needs of the metro's growing immigrant population.

  • "We are charged with serving the public," he said. "So having a stable and compassionate workforce is a must."
  • Businesses and cities that support the program include John Deere, Wells Fargo, Ankeny, Clive, Des Moines, Urbandale, Waukee and West Des Moines.
3. Pizza — a sign of our recovery

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

We're returning to in-person work and our appetite for gas station cuisine is showing it.

By the numbers: Food and fountain drink sales were up 13.4% in Casey's stores from February-April 2021, according to the company's Q4 2021 report.

  • The return of morning and overnight foot traffic contributed to the rise of pizza slice, bakery and beverage sales, Casey's CEO Darren Rebelez said during a stakeholder's call yesterday.
  • During the same period last year, in-store food and drink sales went down by 13.5% due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

Yes, but: Whole-pizza sales skyrocketed in 2020 — a sign that people were eating inside, rather than on-the-go.

What's next: The return of pre-pandemic foot traffic isn't expected until the fall, especially since school is out for the summer, Rebelez said.

4. Expect more cyberattacks against schools

Illustration: Sarah Grillo: Axios

The cybersecurity attack against Des Moines Area Community College is part of a rise in breaches against schools that won't ease up anytime soon.

Details: DMACC canceled classes Monday and Tuesday and brought back only in-person lessons Wednesday, due to the breach.

  • The FBI is investigating the cyberattack that forced the college to close, but details have been scarce.

Of note: Online classes are still canceled for today.

The big picture: Schools are popular targets because of the abundance of student data and their financial ability to pay hackers' ransom demands, said Brett Callow, threat analyst for cybersecurity company Emsisoft.

  • The risk of punishment is also low — U.S. conviction rates for cyber-crimes are at .05%, but "millions" can be made in ransomware attacks, Callow said.
  • Cyberattacks also rose in 2020 due in part to the shift to online learning.

Flashback: Fort Dodge canceled classes in 2020 because of a cyberattack and Johnston closed for a day in 2017 after the hacker group "Dark Overlord" published student data online.

5. Because you recommended it: Lachele's

On Jason’s plate: “The Ron,” ($8) at Lachele's. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

👋🏼 Jason here: I don't eat a lot of burgers, but when I do, I want them to be GDG — greasy delicious good.

I ate there last week at the advice of Axios reader Giada Morresi of DSM.

  • "Lachele's has quickly become one of my all-time favorite burger spots — it even gives Portillo's a run for its money," she told me recently. (DSM, sadly, doesn’t have a Portillo's.)

Flashback: Corey Wendel and his wife Lachele opened Lachele's in February, and they promise: The beef is never frozen.

Visit: 2716 Ingersoll Ave. Wed.-Sat.: 11am-9pm; Sunday: 9am-3pm.

  • Of note: It's a small, busy place so you might need to wait a few minutes for a seat during the lunch hour. If you're rushed, grab takeout!
6. Pic du jour: DSM's new pride flag

The new pride flag was raised at City Hall during a ceremony yesterday. Photo courtesy of the city of DSM

DSM's new pride flag was raised over City Hall for the first time yesterday.

  • It will fly through June, in recognition of Pride Month.

Get involved: The city's LGBTQ Advisory Council is seeking members.

🎥 As we start our return to movie theaters, there are some local gems we miss.

  • 🍿 Linh loved the popcorn and lobby at the Sierra III Theatre in WDM.
  • 🎬 Jason misses the independent films at the Fleur.

What movie theater do you miss? Hit reply and reminisce with us.