IPR News Stories

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.

Univeristy of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics sign
Jon Farvel / Flickr

A clinical trial is now underway at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to test an experimental drug to treat COVID-19. Some previous laboratory tests of the anti-rival drug remdesivir have been promising, but its safety and efficacy in clinical settings is still unproven.

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.

Lindsey Reed / Oaknoll Retirement Residence

Iowa has more than 400 assisted living facilities. And right now they’re under tight restrictions to try to keep COVID-19 away from their vulnerable residents. But this has left many facing a lot of pressure to keep residents safe -- and occupied. 

Ralph Homan / Flickr

Musicians, just like everybody else, are staying home as much as possible these days. Fortunately, because of modern technology and the internet, we can still hear new music from them. The following is a selection of five songs that have been recorded and shared since the COVID-19 outbreak began. Some are newly written in response to the pandemic. All are by midwesterners, some of whom live or used to live right here in Iowa.

Duane Tinkey / Facebook

If you stuck at home looking for something new and different to explore, this weekend would be the perfect time to take the plunge into the opera world.


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.

Penn State via Flickr creative commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Refugee and immigrant-led organizations in Iowa are banding together to provide information on COVID-19 in ten different languages. The resources include public health information and advice on how to cope with our new reality in the age of coronavirus.

Alexey Ruban / Unsplash

Like virtually everything else, the music business is being shaken up by the current pandemic. 

Iowa Public Radio’s Studio One is part of the non-commercial radio world, which is an interconnected system of stations, promoters and record labels, and the music you hear on shows like “Studio One Tracks” has not been spared from the slow down we’re all feeling.

Restaurants are no longer serving dine-in meals, like The Continental in Des Moines.
John Pemble / IPR file photo

The number of Iowa workers seeking unemployment assistance grew at a faster pace last week as 58,453 people filed claims with Iowa Workforce Development. That adds up to 100,343 initial unemployment claims over two weeks as the state expanded business closures to ease the severity of the coronavirus outbreak.

University of Iowa
University of Iowa

Classes are back in session at Iowa colleges and universities this week. But in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, classes are being held online. The process of going virtual is presenting challenges for students and faculty at the University of Iowa.

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.

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.  


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Iowa National Guard

Iowa National Guard soldiers from the 1133rd  transportation company based in Mason City and Iowa City are on the road this week delivering medical personal protective equipment.

Guard spokesperson Col. Michael Wunn said the group dropped off supplies in ten counties Tuesday and were expected to visit distribution sites in 21 more counties Wednesday.

"The National Guard has a unique role to play because it’s both a state entity and a federal entity and so we have unique capabilities with our equipment and the trained personnel that we have,” he said.

courtesy University of Nebraska Lincoln

Unprecedented flooding last year devastated many towns across the Midwest that are still struggling to come back. As Nebraska’s climate continues to shift, one riverside town wants to protect itself from another spring like 2019.

But the process has been plagued by bureaucratic setbacks and legal woes: uncertainty maintains a dominant presence across Winslow, Nebraska’s community.

Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders

Some Iowa homeowners with recently completed remodeling projects are not being allowed to move back into their residence because of inspection delays.

Executive officer of the Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association, Karyl Bohnsack, says prior to COVID-19, demand for remodeling was booming. She said the problem now is that physical property inspections are limited.

Brett Levin / Flickr

Iowa schools are sharing resources for families to keep students engaged while classes are cancelled to prevent the spread of COVID-19, although district officials caution they are not meant to replace lost time with teachers.

Iowa PBS

Iowa Public Radio has lost one of its own. Over a six-decade career, Dean Borg was one of the state’s most highly-regarded journalists. Since 2000, he contributed to Iowa Public Radio’s news production. Borg died Sunday at the age of 81.

Gerry Hardy / Flickr

Songwriters will write songs about what inspires them, and often they (like us) are inspired by other musicians and songwriters.  

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.