kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR

The state of Iowa is not establishing new COVID-19 precautions even as the head of the Centers for Disease Control points to evidence that people with no symptoms can spread the virus.

The CDC director said in a recent interview with an NPR affiliate that up to 25 percent of infected people may be asymptomatic, and that COVID-19 appears to be about three times as infectious as the flu.

John Pemble / IPR file photo

The Iowa Department of Human Services must expand mental health treatment at the Boys State Training School in Eldora, a state-run school for delinquent teenage boys.

A federal judge is also ordering staff members at the facility to limit the amount of time residents are placed in isolation and to no longer use a physical restraint device called “the wrap,” which U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose equated with torture.

AP Photo

United States presidents have been tested by world crises going back to the days of George Washington – some have measured up better than others.

Two presidential historians join River to River host Ben Kieffer to talk about presidential leadership in trying times. Tim Walch, the retired director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, and Tim Naftali, clinical professor of history and public service at New York University and former director at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, examine presidential visions for survival and recovery in times of crisis throughout U.S. history.

Photo courtesy of the Iowa Department of Transportation Historic Archives

While schools are closed, we're creating a series of "Talk of Iowa" episodes that will be fun and educational for learners of all ages. Every Tuesday, we'll learn about Iowa wildlife, and every Thursday, we'll learn about Iowa history.  

Our series continues with a look at the history of the good roads movement and the Lincoln Highway in Iowa. The guides for this hour of history will be Tom Morain of Graceland University and former director of the State Historical Society of Iowa and Drake Hokanson, author of The Lincoln Highway: Main Street Across America.

Special to IPR

The United States' timeline for social distancing now stretches through at least the end of April, according to the latest recommendations from the White House coronavirus task force. While the world adjusts to the new normal, many parents face the added challenge of finding ways to keep their kids engaged while waiting to return to school or daycare. 

Thankfully, many of the local museums, science centers and libraries that have had to close their doors to the public have found ways to provide their services online. 

Jonathan Tichler / Met Opera / Facebook

With an American opera house of international caliber, why miss the opportunity to see and hear the world’s best performances from the Metropolitan Opera?


Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the MET is offering a handful of operas for free through their "Nightly Opera Stream" series. They are also streaming much of their catalog for free if you sign up for a seven day trial of the MET's "on demand" platform or for a $4.99 rental per work. 


Here are a few recommendations not to miss from IPR's Jacqueline Halbloom. 

Clay Masters / IPR

In normal times, people can take for granted essential services like water and electricity in their homes. What’s even more critical during this pandemic is the health of these skilled workers who keep these key services going. Some utilities are taking steps to keep their staff from getting sick with coronavirus, which includes locking employees in at work.  

Courtesy of Siobhan Spain

As the coronavirus spreads every one of us will know someone who is infected, if we don’t already. But right now it can still be difficult to wrap our minds around what is going on and many people are, understandably, reluctant to share that they are infected with COVID-19. On this segment of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with Siobhan Spain, director of Mainframe Studios in Des Moines to share her story. She and her husband have both tested positive for COVID-19.


Pet food manufacturing facilities in Iowa and across the country are considered a critical essential resource by Homeland Security, so they continue to operate.

The Purina Company has factories in Clinton, Davenport and Fort Dodge and employs more than one thousand people.

Carl Kurtz


While schools are closed, we're creating a series of  "Talk of Iowa" episodes that will be fun and educational for learners of all ages. Every Tuesday, we'll learn about Iowa wildlife, and every Thursday, we'll learn about Iowa history.  

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds
Grant Gerlock / IPR file

The ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood and the Emma Goldman Clinic filed a lawsuit Monday challenging Gov. Kim Reynolds’ statement that the state’s temporary ban on non-essential medical procedures includes surgical abortion.

The groups are asking a judge to block enforcement of Reynolds’ order, saying it is effectively an unconstitutional ban on abortion after about 11 weeks of pregnancy.

CoWomen / Unsplash

During this dark and scary time there are some points of light. We’ve seen neighborhoods come together virtually. People have been decorating in themes for families to enjoy when they go out for walks, coordinating support for elderly neighbors, organizing socially distant birthday surprises for people who are stuck at home, and swapping home schooling or entertainment ideas.

mike randol
John Pemble / IPR File

A federal government report has found Iowa’s Medicaid program didn’t fully comply with state and federal requirements for reporting serious injuries and even the deaths of developmentally disabled Iowans.

Adam Sodders / Marshalltown Community School District

A green school bus pulls up to an elementary school in Sioux City. It’s a quarter past noon. Kids and teens line up at the bus to get a sack with breakfast and lunch. 

“There’s one and there’s two,” said a food service worker as she passed out bags. “Have a good day guys!” 

Iowa Labor Collection / State Historical Society of Iowa Library-Iowa City

This program originally aired on Septmeber 5, 2019.

Since the late 1970s, the Iowa Labor History Oral Project has been collecting interviews from the working class across Iowa. They are collecting history from the ground up, as opposed to leaders or people with power.

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Iowa businesses, school districts and citizens continue to respond to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic. We'll be posting updates as more news regarding the spread of the virus in Iowa becomes available here for the week of March 29-April 4. 

Markus Spiske / Unsplash

The new crisis the world is facing is reviving an old idea: The Victory Garden.

Victory gardens first emerged during World War I, and in World War II Americans were once again urged to plant gardens to provide food for their families and neighbors.

Ani Kolleshi/Unsplash

On this episode of River to River, guest host Katelyn Harrop is joined by emergency physician Dr. Hans House and Matthew Nonnenmann, associate professor of occupational and environmental health in the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa, to answer listeners' top questions about COVID-19 and the impact of the novel coronavirus.

Madeleine King / IPR File

The coronavirus outbreak has been devastating for live music. Nationally-touring bands and local musicians alike have canceled shows, which are a primary source of income for artists and others who make their living from live performances. In these trying times, there are still ways to support your favorite musicians. 

Courtesy of George Lindblade

Medical professionals in western Iowa’s largest county started testing people for COVID-19 in their cars Friday. Health officials estimate the drive-thru site can test around 60 people per day, five days a week once it’s fully operational.

Roberta / Flickr

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has disrupted everything. IPR's Karen Impola, who hosts the Folk Tree, says she finds music a big source of comfort and has some recommendations.

John Pemble / IPR file

“Shelter-in-place” is not a legal term and different states use different terms. It generally means that people are ordered to stay home from work except those deemed essential by the state, and those going to grocery store, pharmacy and doctor, or to get fresh air at safe distance from others. 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says people should continue to stay home if they can although she is not making a shelter-in-place order as some governors have. 

Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton / for Harvest Public Media

Southeastern Oklahoma averages at least 40 inches of rain per year, so its agricultural industry focuses primarily on livestock and timber. But an extended drought in 2011 and 2012 cost Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers more than $2 billion in losses statewide

A citizen of the Choctaw Nation, Billy Smallwood is a fifth-generation rancher and hay baler who has a cow-calf operation in Pushmataha County. He says that year, he made almost no hay.

“You know, a hay baler doesn’t like to buy hay, but we had to buy hay,” he remembers.

Katie Peikes / IPR file

Beginning Friday, people can be tested for COVID-19 in Woodbury County without leaving their cars, though health officials wouldn’t say where the drive-thru testing is being done, to keep people from “bogging down” the clinic. 

Restaurants are no longer serving dine-in meals, like Nosh in Des Moines. They are providing carry out and to-go meals with limited hours.
John Pemble / IPR file photo

The number of unemployment claims in Iowa spiked last week as businesses closed their doors to help slow the coronavirus outbreak. In one week, ending Saturday, 41,890 Iowa workers filed new unemployment claims – including those who work in Iowa but live out of state.

Scott Lewis/Flickr

Curbside delivery of materials like paint and lumber is allowing some Iowa contractors to continue working on construction projects despite COVID-19.

Executive Officer of the Home Builders Association of Iowa, Jay Iverson, said most are doing their best to comply with social distancing.

Subcontractors and those working on a project are asked to leave the premises while deliveries are being made," he said.

Matthew Henry / Unsplash

Guest host Charity Nebbe speaks with several mental health experts about how to navigate mental health in times of crisis. They offer tips and share information about mental health resources that are available in Iowa.

Hannon Family

While schools are closed, we're creating a series of "Talk of Iowa" episodes that will be fun and educational for learners of all ages. Every Tuesday, we'll learn about Iowa wildlife, and every Thursday, we'll learn about Iowa history.  

Our series continues with a difficult time in Iowa history. With COVID-19 spreading world-wide, you’ve probably heard people talking about the flu pandemic of 1918 – also referred to as the Spanish Flu. 

Kyler Zeleny / for Harvest Public Media

On a still November day, Patrick O’Neal, the burn coordinator at Kansas State University’s Konza Prairie Biological Station near Manhattan, Kansas, convenes a meeting about a planned fire.

“The goal today is to burn about 52 acres,” he says, pointing out the specific sections on a map.

The clear blue sky and minimal wind provide inviting conditions. A short time later, the fire crew arrives at the first spot, and members pull on firefighter coats and helmets.

John Pemble / IPR file

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Wednesday that Iowa has about 280 ventilators available and is trying to get more as coronavirus infections continue to increase.

A ventilator is a machine that essentially breathes for a patient who cannot breathe on their own and can help save lives. Respiratory failure is a symptom of the most severe cases of COVID-19, and officials across the country have said there are not enough ventilators for all of the Americans who might need one.