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Iowa News

March 31, 2020

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An outbreak of the coronavirus at an eastern Iowa long-term care facility has infected 21 residents and employees. The outbreak at the Cedar Rapids facility has contributed to a recent surge of infections in Linn County, which on Monday became the county in Iowa with the most cases. Linn County Public Health spokeswoman Heather Meador would not identify the affected facility, saying that could jeopardize the privacy of its residents. She said state and local public health officials were working with the facility’s corporate owner to monitor the situation, including the health of residents and safety of employees.


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Federal judges in Texas, Alabama and Ohio have temporarily blocked efforts to ban abortions during the coronavirus pandemic. The rulings Monday were handed down as providers in Iowa and Oklahoma filed lawsuits to stop states from trying to close their doors during the outbreak. Their aim is to stop state officials from prohibiting abortions as part of temporary policy changes related to the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of Texas said the “Supreme Court has spoken clearly” on a women’s right to abortion. A separate judge in Ohio says such orders are unconstitutional if they prohibit abortions.


PLEASANTVILLE, Iowa (AP) — Firefighters are battling hot spots following a fire that gutted a church in south-central Iowa. Crews from several departments were dispatched to the Pleasantville Christian Church in Pleasantville before 6 a.m. Monday. They battled to keep flames from reaching nearby homes and had to truck in water because the community supply was too limited. The intense heat melted siding on some of those houses. By midmorning smoke was still escaping from the building, and bricks were strewn about near the foundation and on a sidewalk. No injuries have been reported. The fire cause will be investigated.


MAQUOKETA, Iowa (AP) — An agency wants to fine an eastern Iowa animal food operation for workplace safety violations, saying it has exposed employees to risks that include long falls. The Telegraph Herald reports that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants to impose fines of more than $74,000 on Devenish Nutrition. The company is based in Fairmont, Minnesota, and has a feed mill in Maquoketa. Company officials have declined to comment. Inspectors said after a Dec. 2-3 check that they found a lack of proper protection from falls along the Maquoketa building’s catwalk. Inspectors also say employees were exposed to explosive dust hazards.

Illinois News

March 31, 2020

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago Public Schools will distribute 100,000 electronic devices for students to use at home as the district implements a remote learning plan on April 13. Illinois schools were shut down to stop the spread of COVID-19. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and school officials said Monday the district’s plan to keep children learning at home include non-digital instruction because the lack of internet access in some homes can’t be remedied quickly. About 65,000 laptops and iPads already being used in schools will be distributed to families who need them the most. The school district is in the process of buying another 37,000 new devices to distribute.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois officials have reported the death of a state prison inmate from COVID-19 and acknowledged the difficulty they face in stopping the spread of the virus in a crowded correctional system. Dr. Ngoze Ezike, the state’s public health director, said a man at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet had died from the respiratory illness. Twelve more inmates with COVID-19 have been hospitalized, several requiring ventilators, and 77 others showing symptoms have been isolated, as have 11 staff members.


CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Southern Illinois University’s trustees have given the school’s president the authority to reimburse students for some costs as instruction has moved online due to the coronavirus outbreak. The board of trustees met Monday in Carbondale to vote the authority to Southern Illinois President Daniel Mahony. The board did not specify how the reimbursements should be handled. However, it gave Mahony the flexibility to make that determination in consultation with chancellors of the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses and the dean of the school of medicine. Mahony says he anticipates reimbursements to students could total between $4 million and $5 million..


CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker says Illinois will soon more than double the number of COVID-19 tests it can administer each day as the number of cases in the state surged. Public health officials announced 1,105 new cases, including 18 deaths on Sunday. Overall, Illinois has had more than 4,500 cases, including 65 deaths. Pritzker said Sunday that the state will increase its testing capacity from 4,000 a day currently to 10,000 within days. He says the state is adding more workers to its labs and technology to make the increase.

Wisconsin News

March 31, 2020

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s chief medical officer for communicable diseases says that efforts to stay at home are helping to slow the growth of cases of the coronavirus in the state. Dr. Ryan Westergaard during a conference call Monday that “What we’re doing is working.” He said the state is seeing a slowing in the increase in cases, but the next two weeks will be critical. As of Monday, state and local health officials said there were 20 deaths in Wisconsin due to the virus and more than 1,200 confirmed cases.


MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers and state health leaders say Wisconsin is preparing to open field hospitals in anticipation of a surge in COVID-19 patients, as the number of cases is expected to peak in a week or more. Evers said Monday that, “We are headed into the worst of this.” There have been more than 1,200 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections in the state as of Monday, including 20 deaths. That’s based on state and local health department numbers. Andrea Palm, secretary of the state Department of Health Services, says the effects of the stay-at-home order won’t be seen until next week.


MILWAUKEE (AP) — The driver of a car that caused a fatal crash in Milwaukee is awaiting charges. Police say the driver swerved to avoid being shot by gunfire and crashed into another vehicle which then hit a tree Sunday afternoon. A woman in her 60s who was driving the car that hit the tree was killed. A teenage passenger was taken to Children’s Hospital.


MILWAUKEE (AP) — The coronavirus has delivered a severe blow to Wisconsin dairy farmers who rely on selling milk to restaurants, schools and the hospitality industry. The Journal Sentinel reports about one-third of Wisconsin dairy products, mainly cheese, are sold in the food service trade. Some farmers say the COVID-19 pandemic has caused milk prices to fall to unprofitable levels this spring, at a time when money is needed for the upcoming planting season. Other dairy farmers are concerned about processing plants closing or cutting production, which would force them to dump milk.