KXEL Morning News for Fri. May 22, 2020

KXEL Morning News for Fri. May 22, 2020

Gov. Kim Reynolds says Test Iowa testing will now expand…”anyone who thinks that they should be tested can be.” Previously, Test Iowa was limited to essential workers. The governor made those comments at Thursday’s news briefing…there were 4,636 total tests administered Wednesday, a record but still shy of the 5-thousand-test-per-day goal.

COVID-19-related deaths in Iowa have now reached 400, as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, after a third straight day of double digit deaths reported on the state’s website. According to the state, there were 19 more deaths and 421 more confirmed cases over the last 24-hours. There are now 15,954 total cases confirmed. Of the 400 deaths in the state, 216—more than half—were residents of long term care facilities.

The next flood protection project in Cedar Rapids will begin next week after the Memorial Day holiday. That is when construction starts on the Lot 44 flood levee in NewBo, part of the City’s permanent flood control system. The levee will stretch from 9th Avenue to 12th Avenue SE and will impact parking in the area. A few other flood protection projects are underway, including work on the 16th Avenue SE floodgate and the floodwall at the McGrath Amphitheatre. Work on a removable (stackable) floodgate at 3rd Avenue SE is tentatively scheduled to begin in September.

Fewer people filed for unemployment last week in Iowa compared with the week prior, and the total number of those receiving benefits actually dropped, thanks to the partial reopening of the state. A report released Thursday the by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 13,040 new claims filed last week…that was a drop from the previous week, when nearly 17-thousand people filed unemployment claims in Iowa. Officials say more than 187,000 have filed for unemployment since the outbreak began, and nearly $51 million in unemployment insurance benefits has been paid out.

A Waterloo fourth grade teacher and a West high school freshman were involved in Gov. Kim Reynolds’ daily news briefing yesterday…Highland Elementary teacher Ryan Christopher talked about the districts efforts to move to virtual learning, while student Isiah McDonald talked about the experience from the student perspective. The full news briefing, including all the comments of the Waterloo participants, is a podcast at kxel.com.

A Waterloo man was arrested following a high-speed pursuit with police early Thursday. 25-year-old Mikal Dequavious Davis was charged with felony eluding, fourth-degree criminal mischief and possession of marijuana with intent to deliver…as well as driving while suspended and violation of a no contact order. Officers were called to a disturbance in the 100 block of Randolph Street just after 1:30 a.m. A chase followed with speeds reaching more than 100 mph before Davis was detained in Hudson. Authorities say Davis also pulled wiring from the engine compartment of a vehicle belonging to another person

Some of the trillions of dollars of government support that was intended for small businesses and employees have wound up in the hands of large companies, who legally qualified for the aid based upon how the bill was written. U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst told me yesterday on KXEL Live & Local that she’s supporting legislation to make sure that doesn’t happen going forward. You can hear the full interview with Sen. Ernst, it’s a podcast at kxel.com.

A new survey of bankers in rural parts of Iowa and 9 other Plains and Western states inched upward in May from April’s record low, but still remained profoundly low as efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the rural economy. The overall index for the region rose slightly to 12.5 from April’s record low of 12.1. Any score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says nearly three of every four bankers surveyed reported restructuring farm loans to deal with weak farm income.

Small meat and poultry producers in Iowa may have a chance at selling products over state lines. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Mike Naig says a Cooperative Interstate Shipment agreement has been reached with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. State-approved meat processors with less than 25 full-time employees and those currently in compliance with all federal food safety, sanitation and facility regulations can apply for the CIS program. Without the program in place, state-approved meat producers are only allowed to sell within the state of Iowa.