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676 New COVID-19 Cases Reported Thursday


Follow the latest Iowa news in our Daily Digest, a newsblog where you can catch up on all the headlines you'll hear about in our on-air newscasts.  

COVID-19 Information:

Thursday, July 2

4:49 p.m. – Waterloo Bucks will continue season despite other minor league COVID-19 concerns cancellations

Baseball’s minor league teams, including five in Iowa, canceled their seasons Tuesday after Major League Baseball decided not to provide players to its affiliated teams due to COVID 19. The Northwood League Waterloo Bucks, however, will continue their season at Waterloo’s Riverfront Stadium.

The stadium will take precautions to discourage coronavirus spread by roping off sections in the stadium, eliminating some on-field promotions, and reducing stadium capacity to 1,000 seats.

The first game will kick off tonight at 6:35.

Read more from Pat Blank.

4:36 p.m. –  Mercy One medical group reinstates “no visitors” policy amid COVID-19 case increase

The Mercy One medical group of Northeast Iowa is returning to a “no visitors” policy beginning tomorrow.  The policy will be in effect at the Waterloo Medical Center, the Cedar Falls Medical Center, and the Oelwein Medical Center. In a press release, administrators cite an increased number of asymptomatic positive COVID-19 cases and exposures in the area.

They say exceptions will be considered for patients receiving end-of-life care, those in maternity units, and children who are admitted to the hospital. In these instances, only one visitor who passes screening will be allowed per patient.

3:00 p.m. – Local officials frustrated state guidelines disallow them from mandating masks

The lack of local control over requiring the use of face coverings is frustrating some Iowa officials, at a time when coronavirus cases are surging in parts of the state.

According to the state Attorney General’s Office, because the governor’s emergency declarations and state guidelines do not mandate masks, local governments do not have the legal authority to do so.

According to the advocacy group Masks For All, Iowa is one of four states to not require masks in at least some public settings.

2:22 p.m. – Polk County reports a surge in new coronavirus cases

Polk County health officials say the average daily case count has increased more than 20 percent in the past ten days. The county reported 114 new COVID-19 cases on July 1, up significantly from the June’s average of 50 to 55 cases a day.

COVID-19 cases have been trending upward overall across the state. Officials say most of the new cases are in people ages 18 to 40. Polk County is encouraging residents to practice social distancing and wear masks during the July 4 weekend.

1:25 p.m. –Black Lives Matter protesters arrested

Des Moines police and state troopers arrested at least 17 Black Lives Matter protesters at the Iowa Capitol yesterday.

Black Lives Matter activists were inside the capitol for a planned protest. Des Moines police arrested three activists on criminal mischief charges related to a different protest.

As law enforcement brought them out of the capitol, dozens of protesters followed.

Physical altercations broke out, but it’s not clear how they started.

Read more from Katarina Sostaric

 10:00 a.m. - 676 new COVID-19 cases reported 

These numbers reflect a 24-hour reporting period. 

Wednesday, July 1

 6:14 p.m. - Des Moines Public Schools students to spend two days a week at school and three at home

Schools districts across the state are sharing more information about how they will reopen this fall. Des Moines Public Schools, the state’s largest district, is planning to put students into groups that will split their time in the classroom.
Elementary and middle school students will spend two days per week learning at school and three days learning at home. High school grades will go to class in-person one day each week.

Superintendent Thomas Ahart says with the infection rate rising in many parts of the country, school as usual is unrealistic. But he says such little time in class is likely to hurt student progress.

Read more from Grant Gerlock. 

 5:28 p.m. – Several Black Lives Matter protesters arrested at Iowa Capitol

Des Moines police and state patrol troopers arrested several Black Lives Matter protesters at the Iowa Capitol. Activists were inside the capitol to push for an executive order to restore felon voting rights.

Des Moines police arrested three activists there on charges related to other demonstrations.

IPR observed dozens of protesters following law enforcement outside and a large altercation broke out. But it wasn’t clear how it started. Police tackled at least one protester to the ground.

As officers arrested more people, some protesters tried to pull them away from police and one protester jumped on an officer’s back. Some officers pepper sprayed or pushed protesters. The state patrol gave a dispersal order and the remaining protesters left quickly.

5:26 p.m. – Young people driving a spike in coronavirus cases

Linn County officials are warning that young people are driving an increase in coronavirus cases that could once again hospitalize scores of vulnerable Iowans, if not contained.

The state’s second largest county saw a 191% increase in cases between the weeks of June 7 and June 21, according to local public health officials. 

Local officials are urging Iowans to wear a face covering and practice social distancing. Without a vaccine, these are some of the only tools the country has to prevent further spread of COVID-19, which has killed more than 127,000 Americans.

3:35 p.m. –  Iowa State Education Association urges schools to require face masks

The state’s largest teachers’ union is calling on state education officials to revise guidelines advising against requiring masks at schools to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.The Iowa State Education Association says face coverings should be required and that schools can make exceptions for some students. 

Dr. Megan Srinivas, an infectious disease specialist, spoke on a briefing hosted by the ISEA. She says it’s easier for the virus to spread in closed areas like classrooms.

The Iowa Department of Education says schools can choose to require masks, but the agency warns enforcing a face covering rule could raise issues with training and liability.

Read more from Grant Gerlock.

  2:19 p.m. – The University of Iowa will host in-person classes this fall, face coverings will be required

The University of Iowa is facing steep budget cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis. The first round of budget cuts goes into effect today. The contracts of 15 lecturers, among them people of color and first generation college graduates, will not be renewed.

The University of Iowa is on track to reopen its campus in August, but as case numbers tick back up, some faculty members are raising concerns about the university’s fall plans. According to the plan, classes with more than 50 students are to be held online while administrators are pushing in-person instruction as much as possible, specifically for first year courses. Face coverings will be required in all indoor classes and will be provided by the University of Iowa.

Read more from Kate Payne.

10:00 a.m. - 349 new COVID-19 cases, 5 more deaths reported Wednesday

These numbers reflect a 24-hour reporting period.

Read more about COVID-19 data, and find a new tool that was developed by the Harvard Global Health Institute and top scientists around the country. It was released today and allows people to check the state or the county where they live and see a COVID-19 risk rating of green, yellow, orange or red. The risk levels are based upon the number of new daily cases per 100,000 people.

Tuesday, June 30

4:52 p.m. – Johnson County District Court judge blocks Iowa’s new mandatory 24-hour abortion waiting period from being enforced

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill into law Monday, and a district court judge stepped in Tuesday to stop it from going into effect on Wednesday.  

The law would require Iowans seeking an abortion to attend an additional appointment at least 24 hours before terminating their pregnancy.

It won’t be enforced while a legal challenge by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Iowa plays out. The Iowa Supreme Court struck down a 72-hour abortion waiting period in 2018, ruling it unconstitutional. 

Planned Parenthood argues that means the Court must also find the 24-hour waiting period unconstitutional. Some Republican lawmakers said they hope this lawsuit leads to a new abortion-related court precedent in Iowa that would open the door to more abortion restrictions. 

Read more of this story. 

4:44 p.m. – Business and Nonprofit leaders in Des Moines share report on racial disparities in Polk County

A group of business and nonprofit leaders in the Des Moines area known as The Directors Council is sharing what it calls a blueprint to address racial disparities in Polk County.

The group’s One Economy report highlights a racial income gap. The median income for African American households is about $34,000, compared to $63,000 county-wide. 

Lonnie Dafney, a West Des Moines school board member, said Black workers need more job training but companies must also commit to hiring them.

The council recommends creating a Black job-seekers database and specific internship programs for Black students to help workers find higher paying jobs.

4:03 p.m. – Iowa Cubs announce there will be no season in 2020  

10:00 a.m. - 213 new COVID-19 cases, 5 new deaths reported Tuesday

These numbers reflect a 24-hour reporting period. 

Monday, June 29

4:54 p.m. – Gov. Kim Reynolds signs a mandatory 24-hour abortion waiting period into law 

It requires a person seeking an abortion to attend an additional appointment at least 24-hours before terminating their pregnancy. The law is set to take effect Wednesday. 

Planned Parenthood argued in court Monday that the law should be temporarily blocked from being enforced while their lawsuit seeking to get it struck down continues. 

A lawyer for the state argued Planned Parenthood doesn’t have legal standing to challenge the law. Planned Parenthood previously won a very similar case in which the Iowa Supreme Court found a 72-hour waiting period unconstitutional. The Johnson County judge on this case says he’ll enter a ruling as quickly as possible.  

Read more about what did and what didn't pass during Iowa's two-part legislative session from IPR's state government reporter Katarina Sostaric. 

4:29 p.m. – Historic hotel in Sioux City to reopen 44 years after it closed

The ten story Warrior hotel in downtown Sioux City and adjacent Davidson building have been developed as an Autograph Collection by Marriott Hotel. It will have 148 rooms and 22 luxury apartments.

Alex Cherubin with Restoration Iowa said people have already been putting down deposits to secure one of the apartments, but there’s still several left. He said renters will have access to all of the Warrior’s amenities.

Cherubin said the hotel will open August 27. Ninety-two rooms will be taking reservations. The apartments in the Davidson could open as early as mid-September.

3:16 p.m. – Small business can apply for Paycheck Protection program loans until Tuesday

Tuesday is the last day for small businesses to apply for coronavirus relief loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

The money can be used for payroll, rent or utilities. And the loans can be forgiven but only if a business keeps the same number of workers at the same wages. 

Jayne Armstrong, the Iowa District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration, said Congress changed the program rules this month to give businesses more time to use the funding.

The amount of the loan that must be used for payroll was also lowered from 75 to 60 percent.

According to the Treasury Department, nearly 58,000 Iowa businesses have been approved for loans totaling more than $5 billion.

10:00 a.m. - 298 new COVID-19 cases, 3 more deaths reported Monday

These numbers reflect a 24-hour reporting period ending at 10:00 a.m. 

7:12 a.m. – Some local public health officials worried about uptick in COVID-19 cases

As COVID-19 cases continue to track upward across the U.S. in the past week, some local public health experts are concerned about what this could mean for Iowa.

COVID-19 cases across Iowa had been trending downward since early May. But they have leveled off in the past two weeks with at least a half dozen counties seeing an uptick in cases.

Nola Aigner is with the Polk County Health Department. She said Polk County’s average daily case count has decreased this month. But she said they’re concerned this trend could easily reverse. That’s if Iowans don’t take precautions like wearing face coverings and social distancing.

“I think that's what worries us because we know as a state, we're behind. We were one of the last to peak. And so that makes us very worried,” she said.

The state reported last week that Iowans between the ages of 18 and 40 make up the largest and fastest-growing group reporting new COVID-19 infections. 

Sunday, June 28

10:00 a.m. - 495 new COVID-19 cases reported Sunday

There were 380 new cases announced Saturday, along with three new deaths for a total of 704.

These numbers reflect a 24-hour reporting period that ends at 10:00 a.m.