Jason Farrar/Flickr Creative Commons /

Incarcerated Iowans and their family members say the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility has struggled to meet their basic human needs, as a coronavirus outbreak batters the prison. Locked in their cells 23 hours a day, some inmates say they’ve been unable to take showers for days at a time, or have waited hours for officers to bring them drinking water.

HM Treasury / Flickr

As new COVID-19 cases continue to climb across Iowa, the state has seen an increase in demand for testing, but getting access to a coronavirus test for some Iowans isn't always as simple as just requesting one.

Katie Peikes / IPR

It’s a warm and humid summer night in late June in Correctionville. Girls and boys and playing softball and baseball in the small rural western Iowa town. Families have spaced out on the bleachers to watch. Some crowd behind the fence at home plate in lawn chairs. 

Gilbert Mercier / Flickr Creative Commons /

City officials in Coralville debated Tuesday night whether they could issue a mask mandate, as coronavirus cases numbers are on the rise in Johnson County. Ultimately the City Council opted for a voluntary approach instead, with plans to "strongly encourage" residents to wear face coverings.

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Tuesday local governments cannot implement mask requirements because they are not consistent with her public health disaster proclamation.

New confirmed coronavirus cases are increasing again as the state has been completely “reopened” for weeks and no government mask-wearing mandates are in effect.

Vanessa Marcano-Kelly / Spanish Interpreter/Translator

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected those in the Black and Latino communities. For Latinos, this may be due in part to the information available in their native language. Some of the Spanish-speaking population in Iowa is staying up to date, thanks to two people.

Nik Anderson via Flickr Creative Commons

The mayor of Muscatine has implemented a mask mandate in an effort to limit coronavirus exposure, at a time when other communities in eastern Iowa are seeing a spike in cases. Effective 6 a.m. on Monday July 6, residents will be required to wear a face covering “when in any indoor or outdoor public setting." Still, questions persist about the legal authority of local officials in Iowa to issue such orders.

Courtesy of University of Iowa Health Care Marketing and Communications

Though many people who have been seriously ill from COVID-19 are older or have underlying health conditions, it’s still unclear what causes certain people to get really sick from the coronavirus. Waterloo resident Aquarius Bunch had been a healthy 27-year-old working at an assisted living facility when she got COVID-19. 

Amy Mayer / IPR file

Rural communities that have not yet seen coronavirus outbreaks could be very susceptible to one. That’s according to Iowa State University sociologist David Peters, who modified an existing public health tool to see how susceptible different size communities are to COVID-19.

kim reynolds
John Pemble / IPR file

While communities across the country are implementing mask mandates, local governments in Iowa are not currently legally authorized to do so. This is a major frustration for some local officials and health care providers, at a time when coronavirus cases are surging in some parts of the state.

Photo Courtesy of the Waterloo Bucks

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.Now that MLB has made its decision, except for a few high school games, there will be no baseball at the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the Burlington Bees, the Clinton Lumber Kings or the Quad Cities River Bandits. But you can hear “play ball” starting tonight at Waterloo’s Riverfront Stadium.

Des Moines Public Schools never resumed classes after spring break last spring. Now the district plans to split students into groups that would spend part of the week at school and part of the week learning remotely.
John Pemble / IPR file

At Clarke Community Schools in Osceola, Iowa, Superintendent Steve Seid has an idea of how to rearrange things in school so students can come back safely in the middle of a deadly pandemic. Desks will be spread out as much as possible. Students will be sent to the restroom one-at-a-time. Lunch periods and class dismissals will be staggered to keep people from cramming into hallways and cafeterias all at once.

Buses are still a puzzle, though. Students ride the bus to school from all across the county. Seid isn’t sure how to manage that while observing social distancing.

Tony Webster / Flickr Creative Commons /

The University of Iowa is facing steep budget cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, as are institutions across the country. The school is grappling with how to create an on-campus experience that will attract students to return in August, while protecting public health. Some faculty within the school’s largest college are raising concerns over how budget cuts are being handled, and how administrators are planning to reopen this fall.

Charlie Neibergall / AP Photo

As COVID-19 cases have increased across the country, some local public health officials are urging Iowans to take extra precautions.

COVID-19 Infections Surge In The Quad Cities

Jun 26, 2020
Madeleine King / IPR File

A sudden surge in coronavirus cases in the Quad Cities is scaring local health authorities. And they say most of the rapid increase in cases is occurring among teenagers and young adults.

Amy Thoreson, Deputy Director of the Scott County Health Department, says 40 new cases were reported in the county on Thursday, and some more possible infections are still being investigated.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

The families of three workers who died after contracting the coronavirus in a Tyson meatpacking plant in Waterloo are suing the company. In a lawsuit filed Thursday in Black Hawk County, the families allege fraudulent misrepresentation, gross negligence and wanton disregard for worker safety.

Iowa Cubs

The Iowa Cubs have suspended operations at Principal Park in Des Moines and have canceled two high school baseball games scheduled for Thursday night. That’s after a team employee tested positive for COVID-19.

I-CUBS Assistant General Manager Randy Wehofer said everything will remain closed until all staff members can be tested.

“Depending on the results of those tests, we will figure out how long we need to remain closed for hosting public events,” Wehofer said.  

Nick Brincks / IPR file

Iowa high school baseball and softball teams were allowed to start their summer seasons earlier this month, but COVID-19 has already benched several teams.

In this file photo, a worker at a meat processing plant stands side by side other workers.
Courtesy of Oxfam America / file

Meatpacking plants continue to be a driving factor in coronavirus outbreaks across rural America. In Iowa, refugees from Myanmar are among the hardest-hit, as nearly the entire community works in the plants. Many feel they don’t have options, other than to work in facilities where social distancing is extremely difficult.

Ben Wicks / Unsplash

A year ago, the Iowa Legislature created a children’s mental health system, and many were concerned because that system came without state funding attached. This year the legislature experienced an unusual session broken up by the COVID-19 pandemic, and proposed funding didn’t pass. This has left some regions concerned about where that leaves the system now.

Steve Garrington QC Honor Flight

Veterans who fly to Washington D.C. to see their service memorials on so-called Honor Flights will have to wait until next year.

The National Honor Flight Board  has canceled all trips until 2021 due to concerns over COVID-19.

The trips began in 2005 to take World War II veterans to see their newly-dedicated memorial at no cost to them. Co-Chair of the Sullivan Hartog Davis Flight in Waterloo, Frank Magsamen said the trips have continued with the fewer of the oldest veterans.

Amy Mayer / IPR file

Several Iowa leaders are asking the federal government to add turkey farms to the types of agricultural businesses that get relief from coronavirus-related losses. The industry was not mentioned in the CARES Act nor in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s payment program for farm businesses.

“There was no money made available for turkeys,” says Ron Kardel, a turkey farmer in Walcott and chair of the National Turkey Federation.

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The global pandemic has impacted the food supply in numerous ways and that has led to fluctuations in the prices of some common items. Consider humble ground beef, the stuff of hamburgers, meatballs, chili and pasta sauce. The fattier it is, the lower the price. Usually.

Natalie Krebs / IPR

Childcare in Iowa appears to be reaching a crisis. Nearly a quarter of the state’s residents are estimated to live in a childcare desert while the annual cost has been estimated to be more than tuition at a public university. This year addressing childcare was set to be a priority in the state legislature, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

Tom Gustafson / Courtesy of Okoboji Tourism

A northwest Iowa county known for summer tourism is seeing an increase in new COVID-19 cases believed to be partly related to Memorial Day weekend and the start of the busy summer season.

Natalie Krebs / IPR file

The death of Minneapolis man George Floyd at the hands of a police officer has sparked large protests across Iowa,  sometimes attracting crowds numbering into the thousands.

Paul 710928003 / flickr

Seven inmates in the Woodbury County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19 and the county sheriff’s office anticipates seeing more positive cases.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Health officials in Woodbury County struggled for weeks with what to do about a Tyson meatpacking plant in Nebraska that contributed to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the region. Emails from April show that Woodbury County health officials were very concerned about the outbreak at the plant but couldn't say anything publicly at the time. 

John Pemble / IPR

Gov. Kim Reynolds pushed to ‘reopen’ Iowa’s economy in May, and now that most businesses are back open, we are all learning to live with the new normal. A vaccine for the virus remains months away at best, and many government leaders, including Reynolds, acknowledge that just because the economy is open, the risk of the virus is not gone.

Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

As Iowa opens up, health experts say there are three legs to managing this virus: testing, tracing and isolation. Experts say it’s not enough to test, and that it's important to contact those who potentially may have been exposed to the virus so they can isolate. This is known as contact tracing.

Morning Edition host Clay Masters talks with IPR health reporter Natalie Krebs about how the state and local health departments are handling contact tracing.