Katarina Sostaric

State Government Reporter

Katarina Sostaric is the State Government Reporter for Iowa Public Radio.

She previously covered Eastern Iowa for IPR from Iowa City. Before coming to Iowa, Katarina was a reporter and host at a public radio station in Southeast Alaska, where her work also aired on Alaska’s statewide public radio network.

Katarina worked as a Morning Edition news anchor and general assignment reporter at KBIA in Columbia while she was a student at the Missouri School of Journalism. She has bachelor’s degrees in Convergence Journalism and International Studies from the University of Missouri.

Katarina’s favorite public radio program is Reveal.

Brian Powers / The Des Moines Register via AP, Pool

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 April 5-11. 

COVID map
Iowa Department of Public Health

Gov. Kim Reynolds and public health officials this week described their six-region point system to guide their decisions about COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

Hush Naidoo / Unsplash

The Iowa Board of Medicine voted unanimously at an emergency meeting Friday to call on Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a formal shelter-in-place order.

At least thirty-eight other states already have an order that requires people to only leave their home if necessary.

alamosbasement/flickr

Gov. Kim Reynolds Thursday ordered Iowa K-12 schools to remain closed through April 30 and asked school districts to submit plans for offering instruction during part of that time.

She originally recommended on March 15 that schools close until April 13 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But state officials this week said Iowa could reach the peak of new coronavirus cases in two to three weeks.

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.

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.

Brian Powers / The Des Moines Register via AP, Pool

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. 

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. 

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.

reynolds
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa officials announced Monday the state is launching a short-term relief program for small businesses disrupted by measures taken to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

Businesses with two to 25 employees prior to March 17 can apply for grants between $5,000 and $25,000. These businesses can also be eligible for a deferral of sales and use or withholding taxes.

John Pemble / IPR File

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 22-28.

Joyce Russell / IPR file

The head of Iowa’s agency that handles unemployment insurance said Friday they are seeing an “unprecedented” number of unemployment claims as Iowans get laid off or are unable to work because of COVID-19.

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Friday she is suspending most evictions, penalties and interest related to property tax collection, and some other state regulations in response to COVID-19. The measures are part of an additional state public health emergency declaration signed by Reynolds

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Iowa businesses, school districts and citizens continue to respond to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic. Updates and news regarding the spread of the virus in Iowa for the week of March 15-21 are available here. 

polk county court
Stephen Matthew Milligan / Wikimedia Commons

Most court proceedings in Iowa are on hold to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but county clerk of court offices are still working as of Thursday to handle emergency needs.

State Court Administrator Todd Nuccio said even if county courthouse buildings are closed to the public, information should be posted outside for contacting the clerk of court.

Iowa Capitol visitors are required to undergo a brief health screening in a tent before entering the building.
John Pemble / IPR

Iowa lawmakers unanimously passed a bill Monday night responding to issues related to COVID-19 and ensuring state government funding can continue before they officially suspended the legislative session for at least 30 days to prevent the spread of the disease.

iowa capitol
John Pemble / IPR file

Iowa’s legislative session will be suspended for at least 30 days after state officials confirmed community spread of COVID-19 in Iowa, leaders announced Sunday afternoon.

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Gov. Kim Reynolds said Saturday night community spread of COVID-19 has occurred in Iowa.

The announcement came after a Dallas County resident tested positive for the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and the person wasn’t linked to a known risk factor such as travel to an affected area.

revenue estimating conference
John Pemble / IPR

State revenue forecasters said Thursday it is too early to know the impact the new coronavirus will have on Iowa’s economy as it sends shockwaves through the world economy.

The Revenue Estimating Conference is predicting the state’s revenue will hold steady in the next fiscal year that starts July 1.

The state is still expected to bring in more than $8.2 billion in state fiscal year 2021, which is the year that lawmakers will have to pass a budget for before the legislative session ends. The new estimate gives them about $12 million less than December’s REC estimate.

iowa capitol
John Pemble/IPR file

Iowans who become sick from asbestos exposure would have to provide more detailed information to file a lawsuit under a bill that was sent to the governor for her signature.

The bill passed the Iowa House Tuesday on a mostly party-line vote of 54-46, with all Republicans and one Democrat voting for it.

Rep. Brian Lohse, R-Bondurant, said there have been problems with attorneys not doing enough work before filing asbestos-related lawsuits and naming too many defendants.

John Pemble / IPR file

State officials identified five more cases of COVID-19 Tuesday evening, bringing the total number of Iowans who tested presumptively positive for the disease caused by the new coronavirus to 13. 

The five new cases are in Johnson County, and all of the individuals went on the same recent Egyptian cruise as the people in the seven other cases in that county. 

Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Iowa’s first three presumptive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, have been detected in Johnson County, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Sunday.

Dog on leash
Douglas Porter / Flickr

The Iowa Senate passed a bill Wednesday to enhance criminal penalties for abuse and neglect of companion animals.

Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, said the bill is the product of years of negotiations.

kim reynolds
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

The tax package Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds is calling the “Invest in Iowa Act” got its first statehouse hearing Wednesday, but the chair of the Senate subcommittee started the meeting by saying they would not take action on the bill.

Iowa Capitol
John Pemble / IPR file

Iowa’s K-12 public schools will get a 2.3 percent per-student funding increase this fall under a deal passed Wednesday by the Iowa House and Senate.

In late January, the House and Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed a 2.5 percent school funding increase, and the Senate suggested 2.1 percent. This week, they met in the middle with $85.57 million in new public school base funding.

senator dan dawson
John Pemble / IPR

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said she will support a bill the Iowa Senate passed Tuesday to put some restrictions on felon voting rights restoration if that’s what it takes to advance her proposed constitutional amendment.

Reynolds’ proposal would automatically restore voting rights to Iowans with felony convictions who complete their sentences, including probation and parole. It has to pass the legislature twice before going on the ballot for voters to decide.

John Pemble/IPR file

Iowa is the only state in the nation that still automatically bans all people with felony convictions from voting. As of now, it’s up to the tens of thousands of Iowans with such convictions to appeal to the state to get their voting rights restored – a process that faced a significant backlog in the weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses.

iowa capitol
John Pemble / IPR file

The criminal penalties for Iowans convicted of intentionally or accidentally ending a pregnancy without the consent of the mother would be increased under a bill advanced Monday by Republicans on a House panel.

Iowa Catholic Conference lobbyist Tom Chapman supports the bill. He said Iowa should treat the killing of a fetus without the consent of the woman as a form of homicide.

wendy shoemaker
Katarina Sostaric / IPR

Wendy Shoemaker has lived with chronic pain for decades, and she was prescribed opioids to treat it.

“All you do is stand there and watch your life,” she said.

Shoemaker said she couldn’t do much with her daughter when she took opioids. She has holes in her memory from that time, and she was in heart failure. But almost a year ago, she was weaned off opioids and joined Iowa’s medical cannabis program.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds
Grant Gerlock / IPR file

Gov. Kim Reynolds acknowledged Tuesday her June 2019 firing of former Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven was partly related to his response to concerns about increased deaths at a state-run facility for disabled residents.

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