KXEL Morning News for Fri. Jun. 26, 2020

KXEL Morning News for Fri. Jun. 26, 2020

Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation yesterday for Black Hawk County in response to severe weather and heavy rainfall that began last Saturday. The governor’s proclamation allows state resources to be utilized to respond to and recover from the effects of this severe weather and activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program for qualifying residents, along with the Disaster Case Management Program for Black Hawk County.

Governor Reynolds has extended the state health emergency proclamation for 30 days. The most recent proclamation was set to expire late last night. The only change since the most recent order four weeks ago, is that now all school team activities may resume; the governor said she made that move after consulting state officials, including at the education department. Reynolds also stated that the TestIowa program has tested more than 3,000 people consistently each day all week. Along with that, the positive test rate across the state dropped below 10% for the first time; it was at 9.9% on Tuesday.

Deere & Co. rolled out another round of buyouts for U.S. salaried employees yesterday. The voluntary severance program is for U.S. active salaried employees. Some positions are exempt, such as workers in the Moline-based manufacturer’s precision ag, data and analytics and IT departments. The company could have further reductions, such as layoffs, beyond the buyouts offered. The structure of the buyout program is similar to a round of voluntary separation packages Deere offered to workers in recent months.

The number of initial unemployment claims in Iowa last week was 8,542. This is a drop from the previous week’s 9,516 initial claims filed. The number of continuing weekly unemployment claims for the week was 153,771, down by about a thousand from the week before.

Heavy rainfall the past several days has caused flooding issues forcing the closure of George Wyth State Park in Black Hawk County. The park closed earlier this week when water levels made access into the park impossible. The park will likely remain closed through Monday depending on any weekend rainfall. The DNR has contacted anyone with reservations affected by this closure and issued refunds.

The number of passengers at the Eastern Iowa Airport increased in May compared to April of this year and are tracking along with the national average. 14,353 passengers flew to and from the Eastern Iowa Airport in May, but that’s an 87% decrease over the same month the past year. By comparison, year-to-year passenger numbers were down by 97% in April.

Four downtown Cedar Rapids bar owners are joining forces to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in July. The traditional Irish themed party was cancelled in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 25th. The four bars say they will donate a portion of all sales from the event to a local charity of their choosing…and urge other bars or restaurants to participate.

Discussion continues in the nation’s capital about further legislation to spur economic recovery following the global pandemic. One of the items under discussion is how to protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits. Iowa addressed that earlier this month. More on the general assembly’s actions this year on the Iowa Business Report, tomorrow morning at 7 and Sunday morning at 11 on News/Talk 1540 KXEL.

Iowa State University will require face coverings for all students, faculty and staff, much like their Regent counterparts at the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Iowa. ISU will supply face coverings and/or face shields which will be required in classrooms, offices, and areas where physical distancing is not possible. ISU’s president announced the change in face mask policy which will take effect July 1st.

A staff member at Des Moines’ Principal Park tested positive for COVID-19…leading to cancellation of two high school baseball games scheduled for there on Thursday. Officials said all staff at the ballpark will now undergo testing for COVID-19. Ankeny Christian and Orient Macksburg, as well as Indianola and Gilbert, had been scheduled to play at the park before park officials learned of infected staffer. Officials have also informed four high school teams — Pella Christian, Grinnell, Ames and Knoxville — that played there Wednesday about the positive test. The field is the home to the triple-A Iowa Cubs…who have yet to take the field this year due to the coronavirus, so the stadium has been hosting high school baseball games.