Iowa officials confirm 38 new COVID-19 cases

DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa health officials said Sunday that they have confirmed 38 more cases of COVID-19 and a fourth death.
The Iowa Department of Public Health said the state now has 336 positive cases, up from 298 on Saturday. The latest death was a Linn County resident between the ages of 61 and 80.
The new cases include 10 in Polk County, six in Linn County and four each in Johnson and Dubuque counties. The virus has now been found in 50 of Iowa’s 99 counties.
The new cases include nine people who range in age from 18 to 40; 14 who are 41-60 years old; 14 who are older than 60; and one child younger than 18.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has ordered bars, dine-in restaurants, theaters, casinos and businesses that sell furniture, books and clothing to remain closed until at least April 7 to help limit the virus’ spread.

Storms, tornadoes strike Midwest, South

Associated Press
Strong storms that brought tornadoes, high winds, hail and rain to parts of the Midwest and South caused extensive damage in some areas but no deaths, officials said Sunday.
Tornadoes were spotted in Arkansas, Illinois and Iowa as thunderstorms swept through the area Saturday. High winds and a possible tornado were also reported in Indiana.
The National Weather Service said it was still assessing damage and determining the strength of the tornadoes. Among the places that were hit was a mall in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and an apartment building in the northeastern Iowa community of Oelwein.
In Jonesboro, most stores at The Mall at Turtle Creek were closed because of coronavirus concerns, which helped to minimize the number of injuries from the tornado.
“There are 18 injuries in this event (Saturday) and two were admitted to the hospital. No fatalities, thank God,” Craighead County Judge Marvin Day said Sunday.
Day did not provide the condition of the two hospitalized, but said the injuries were not life-threatening.
“The rescue effort is complete and we have started cleanup and recovery,” said Day, the county’s top executive officer.
The Jonesboro Municipal Airport and a Busch Agricultural Resources rice mill also suffered heavy damage when the tornado struck about 5 p.m. Day said.
The tornado also derailed a Union Pacific train.
Railroad spokeswoman Amanda Treiber said that about 112 cars derailed, releasing an undisclosed flammable liquid and paint that Union Pacific said was not hazardous. Trieber said the train crew was not injured. Workers cleaned the site and train operations resumed about 9 a.m. Sunday.
An area from the mall eastward beyond the airport was closed. A curfew was in effect for the community, Day said. Jonesboro, located about 70 miles northwest of Memphis, Tennessee, has a population of about 75,000.
In Oelwein, Iowa, a tornado tore off part of the wall of a 12-unit apartment building and damaged the siding of a second building in the complex. Police said no serious injuries were reported.
Apartment resident Jonathan Reinert said the storm damage left him without a place to stay during the coronavirus outbreak.
“I got no shelter in place now,” Reinert told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.
Oelwein is a city of about 6,000 residents that’s about 140 miles northeast of the state capital of Des Moines.
In northern Illinois, a tornado that touched down in rural Ogle County near the town of Oregon was on the ground for roughly 10 minutes, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Gino Izzi. No injuries were reported.
High winds and a possible tornado damaged homes in the southwestern Indiana town of Newburgh. One person was hospitalized for minor injuries, according to Warrick County Sheriff Mike Wilder.

Authorities: Fisherman drowned after falling from boat

GUTTENBERG (AP) — A man fishing on the Mississippi River fell from a boat in northeast Iowa and drowned, authorities said.
The Iowa Natural Resources Department said two men in a 14-foot-long boat were in a restricted area near a low-head dam at Guttenberg on Saturday afternoon when their boat began to take on water in a turbulent area below the lock.
Shaun Oppenheimer, 54, of Quasqueton, went overboard and drowned, the department said in a news release. His body was recovered.
Neither man was wearing a flotation device although two were on the boat, the department said.
The incident is being investigated.

Winnebago stops production, will pay 5,000 workers for 2 weeks

FOREST CITY (AP) — Iowa-based recreational vehicle and boat manufacturer Winnebago Industries said Monday it is ceasing production to protect workers from coronavirus exposure and will adjust production as demand for the company’s products is rapidly changing.
The company, which employees about 5,000 people, makes motor homes, travel trailers and boats under the Winnebago, Grand Design, Newmar and Chris-Craft brands.
The Forest City, Iowa-based company has production facilities in Iowa, Indiana, Oregon, Minnesota and Florida.
Essential activities for dealers and end customers, including remote retail support for dealers, along with technical care, warranty administration, and parts fulfillment will continue. Production will stop this week and won’t resume until at least April 12, the company said in a statement.
“As this global situation continues to rapidly evolve, our top priority is the health and well-being of our employees, business partners, customers and communities,” Winnebago Industries President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Happe said in the statement.
The company said it is providing base pay and benefits to employees for the first two weeks.

Citing virus concerns, officials reduce prison, jail numbers

DES MOINES (AP) — Authorities have been taking steps to cut the number of inmates in Iowa’s prisons and jails, citing concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus.
The disease it causes, COVID-19, has yet to be confirmed in any Iowa prison or jail, officials told The Des Moines Register. But it poses a particular menace to overcrowded prisons and jails, ACLU spokeswoman Veronica Fowler said.
“There is no ability to self-distance. Meanwhile, people are coming into the jail all the time. People are coming in, coming out. You really have just a tinderbox for COVID-19 to spread rapidly,” Fowler said.
The Iowa Corrections Department is expediting the placement of about 700 prisoners who are approved for parole or work release, according to spokesman Cord Overton.
Maj. Bryce Schmidt, Scott County Jail administrator, said a judge has reduced terms for some elderly inmates, some inmates with respiratory issues and some close to finishing their sentences.
State public defender Jeff Wright said the Waterloo office reached an agreement with the Black Hawk county attorney for the early release of about 30 inmates.
For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The Iowa Department of Public Health said Monday the state now has 105 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Journalist Borg, ‘Iowa Press’ host, dies at 81

Associated Press
IOWA CITY — Broadcast journalist Dean Borg, who kept Iowans informed for decades as the host of the public affairs television program “Iowa Press,” has died at age 81, Iowa PBS announced Monday.
Borg died Sunday afternoon due to complications caused by pancreatic cancer, the network said in a statement.
Borg appeared on “Iowa Press,” which airs on Friday evenings, from its debut in 1971 until his retirement as moderator in January 2017. He kept working for Iowa Public Radio, which he joined in 2000 as an Iowa City-based correspondent, until his death.
Borg was known for questioning state politicians, presidential candidates and other newsmakers and hosting panel discussions about the issues of the day. He interviewed every president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, and moderated some nationally televised debates during the Iowa caucuses.
Colleagues and politicians remembered Borg on Monday as a giant in Iowa journalism who had tremendous integrity and was a true gentleman on and off the air.
Iowa PBS general manager Molly Phillips says Borg was widely admired by his colleagues.
“His experience, intelligence, tenacity, and most of all, integrity was what made him such a unique and invaluable journalist and friend,” she said in a statement. She said that no matter the subject, he “always brought his best to each broadcast.”
Iowa Public Radio executive director Myrna Johnson called Borg “one of the best reporters the state has ever seen.” She said he covered everything from politics to natural disasters with “a steady hand and complete integrity.”
Borg grew up in Forest City and studied journalism at Iowa State University and earned a graduate degree in public administration from the University of Iowa. He began his broadcasting career at radio station WMT in Cedar Rapids, where he eventually led a staff of dozens of journalists.
Iowa PBS senior producer Andrew Batt said in a statement that Borg was a mentor who “strived for truth and in-depth information in an era of partisan political coverage.”
Iowa PBS said Borg is survived by his wife and five children, who are planning a private funeral service due to coronavirus pandemic precautions. The family asked that donations be made to the Mount Vernon Schools Foundation or the Iowa PBS Foundation.

Reynolds: Shelter orders not needed

Associated Press
DES MOINES — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said Monday that more aggressive orders to halt the movement of Iowans are not needed even though the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise.
Reynolds said the state now has 105 positive cases, an increase of 15 from Sunday. They now span 26 counties. She confirmed for the first time Monday that seven Iowans are hospitalized with the illness caused by the coronavirus.
Reynolds said positive cases are increasing in large part due to expanded testing and the number is likely to grow.
She said state transportation reports show overall traffic on major roadways is down 47% from a year ago, while truck traffic is normal, an indication Iowans have curtailed travel significantly except for those providing essential services.
“At this point we’re not at a place where we’re going to order a shelter in place or a stay at home. We are continuing to evaluate what those metrics look like,” she said, adding she wants to “make sure that we’re not shutting down a state where we don’t need to.”
Sarah Reisetter, the deputy director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, said the rate of hospitalizations, the length of hospital stays, the anticipated spread of the disease within a community and the rate at which people with underlying conditions are becoming infected are among the criteria used when evaluating the severity of measures needed to halt the disease’s spread.
Local officials do have the authority to initiate shelter in place orders if they deem it necessary, Reynolds said.
For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Reynolds also announced an Iowa small business grant and tax deferral program to help businesses maintain operations or reopen after the pandemic emergency passes. Applications will be taken at a website the state has established. Up to $4 million is available from state resources to help immediately.
Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham said state resources are available only to help small businesses remain viable for 30 days until federal funding is released.
“This is a stopgap to basically keep doors open because the first thing we’re dealing with is keeping as many people employed as possible, second is liquidity,” she said.
She said small businesses that rely on daily customer traffic are hurting the most.
On Monday, Collins Aerospace, one of the largest employers in eastern Iowa, confirmed that an employee at one of its locations in Cedar Rapids had tested positive for coronavirus.
The company, which manufactures aviation and military equipment, said the employee was being quarantined and that it had asked others who were in contact with the individual to stay home for 14 days. The company was doing enhanced cleaning of the employee’s work areas and other common areas.

In Iowa: 22 new coronavirus cases

DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa health officials have confirmed 22 new coronavirus cases in the state.
The Iowa Department of Public Health said Sunday that the state now has 90 cases of COVID-19.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered all of the state’s hair salons, barber shops, medical spas, massage therapists, tattoo shops and swimming pools to close until March 31. She also suspended foreclosures on residential, commercial and agriculture properties.
But Reynolds said she doesn’t think the stricter “stay-at-home” measures imposed in states like California and New York are necessary in Iowa at this time because residents are complying with state guidelines to avoid gatherings, maintain social distance and stay home if people are sick.
“I think we can manage it if Iowans will do what I am asking them to do,” Reynolds said.
For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Johnson County reported five new cases of COVID-19, and Tama County reported 3 new cases. The new virus cases include two new cases in each of the following counties: Cerro Gordo, Dubuque, and Harrison counties.
The counties of Dallas, Kossuth, Linn, Poweshiek, Scott, Sioux, Washington and Woodbury counties each reported one new case of the disease.
Those infected included one who is 81 years or older, six who are 61 years to 80 years old, eight who are 41 to 60 years old, and seven who are 18 to 40.

Iowa’s January unemployment rate holds

DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa’s unemployment rate for January was 2.8%, the state reported Monday.
Iowa Workforce Development said the rate was unchanged from the revised rate for December.
The number of unemployed residents rose slightly in January to an estimated 49,500. The number of people with jobs also increased, to about 1.7 million.
Iowa’s rate is tied for the 10th lowest in the nation.
The U.S. unemployment rate for January was 3.6%.

Suspect charged with murder in shooting

MARSHALLTOWN (AP) — Authorities have charged a 30-year-old suspect with first-degree murder in the shooting of a man in Marshalltown.
Mustafa Muhammad also is charged with three weapons counts. Online court records don’t list the name of an attorney who could comment for him.
The shooting was reported around 3:30 a.m. Sunday. Officers responding to the shooting found a critically injured 27-year-old man. He died later at a Marshalltown hospital, police said.
A 37-year-old woman also suffered a minor wound.
Their names haven’t been released.